Saturday, April 24, 2010

China launches its offshore wind industry

In December 2007 I participated in a clean energy/life sciences trade mission to China. One of the major topics of discussion was offshore wind energy -- something Chinese energy officials were very interested in and had just begun exploring. The following spring, a delegation of Chinese engineers came to the U.S. to follow-up on the trade mission and the discussions around offshore wind.

This year China became a member of the global offshore wind energy industry when it erected a 100 MW project near the Shanghai East China Sea Bridge. Planning for a cluster of offshore projects in the sea off eastern Jiangsu is now underway.

A decision from the U.S. Department of the Interior on Cape Wind -- the first offshore wind project proposed in the U.S. is expected next week.

Offshore wind power sets sail

By Wan Zhihong
China Daily
April 24, 2010

Beijing - China will choose the sea off eastern Jiangsu province to build the country's first batch of offshore wind power projects, an energy official said on Friday.

The four wind power projects include two near shore plants, each with installed capacity of 300 megawatts (mW), and two built on tidal flats with a capacity of 200 mW each, said Shi Lishan, deputy director of the new energy department under the National Energy Administration (NEA).

Public bidding for the four projects will start at the beginning of next month, he said.

"Construction of offshore wind power projects will be one focus of China's wind power industry in the future. As the country boasts rich offshore wind energy resources, China has great potential in this field," said Shi.

Shi added that the construction of offshore wind power projects costs much more and requires more complex technology compared with wind power projects built on land.

China has finished construction of a pilot offshore wind power project near Shanghai. Investment of the project is 2.5 times of an on land project with the same capacity, said Shi.

China's wind power industry has seen over 100 percent year-on-year growth in the past four years. The country's installed wind power capacity has reached 25 gigawatts (gW), the second-largest in the world.

The country plans to build seven wind power bases with a minimum capacity of 10 gW each by 2020, in a move to further increase the use of the clean energy.

The seven bases are: Jiuquan in Gansu province, Hami in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Hebei province, western Jilin province, eastern Inner Mongolia, western Inner Mongolia, and Jiangsu province.

Once completed in 2020, the seven bases will have combined capacity of around 120 gW, when the country's total power capacity is projected to be 1,500 gW, Shi told China Daily earlier.

Construction of these bases would require an investment of around 1 trillion yuan, he said.

However, with the rapid development of the wind power industry, some problems in the sector also emerged. For instance, it is hard for many finished wind power plants to connect to the grid.

Commenting on the issue, Shi said the government needs to improve its planning for the development of wind power and grid capacity.

"In my opinion there is no problem in technology for wind power plants to connect to the grid," he said.


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