China becomes the world’s largest wind market


China’s new installed wind power capacity reached 30.5 GW in 2015, representing a significant growth of 31.5 percent from a year earlier, according to statistics released by the Chinese Wind Energy Association. The increase was mainly due to a policy lowering the country’s feed-in tariff for wind power in 2016. For the fifth year in a row, Goldwind Science & Technology ranked first with a wind power installation capacity of more than 7 GW, followed by Envision Energy, Mingyang Wind Power, United Power and CSIC (Chongqing) Haizhuang Windpower Equipment.

China has become the world’s largest wind power market in terms of both new and aggregate installed capacity. The country’s wind power market is dominated by domestic players, with 23 Chinese wind power companies occupying a combined market share of 97 percent.

The National Energy Administration of China said that the country in 2016 aims to deploy more than 20 GW in wind power installation capacity.

The combined capacity of approved wind power projects, under China’s 12th Five-Year Development Plan spanning 2011-2015, totaled 138 GW. The average completion rate of the first four batches of approved wind power projects was 82 percent. So far this year, the Chinese government has not yet issued the specific five-year target for wind power installation capacity due to wind power curtailment, however it continues to stress the importance of promoting steady development of wind power.

In late 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission of China announced that the benchmark price for onshore wind power is expected to be reduced by 0.1 yuan ($0.015) to 0.2 yuan ($0.03) per kWh in 2016 and continue to be lowered by an additional 0.2 yuan ($0.03) to 0.3 yuan ($0.045) per kWh in 2018. According to the Strategic Action Plan for Energy Development, spanning 2014-2020, China’s feed-in tariff for wind power is expected to drop to being almost the same as for coal-fired power by 2020.

In the early development stage of the wind power industry, local governments allowed some wind power projects to be carried out without obtaining relevant land, forestry and environmental approvals, and neglected the oversight of water and soil conservation and ecological environment protection during the construction of these projects. As a result, many of the wind power projects, which were meant to provide green electricity, led to adverse ecological impacts due to illegal land use and deforestation. The Chinese government is now taking another look at the issue, with the intention of gradually increasing the regulations around the environment evaluation for wind power projects and becoming more cautious in granting approvals for land uses.

Lead image: Wind turbines in Xinjiang. Credit: Shutterstock.

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