The Chinese renewable energy sector is rapidly growing, not only thanks to its solar capacity. Over the past decade, China has become the world leader in wind energy with the largest installed capacity, both on land and sea. As the vast majority of Chinese energy comes from fossil sources that trigger air pollution, renewable energy has become the environmentally friendly counterpart of these traditional sources.
This is due to the Chinese Government approach to make the PRC an energy superpower of the 21st century. In its 13th Energy Technology Innovation Five-Year Plan, the Communist Party of China has pinpointed the wind energy and wind turbines technology with a megawatt (MW) production capacity of between 8 and 10MW, as the focus point. As China is approaching the end of the Plan by the end of 2020, it aims to achieve 210 gigawatts (GW) of grid-connected wind energy capacity, which would amount to 6% of the Middle Kingdom total energy production. In the long run, The People’s Republic of China intends to achieve 400GW of wind capacity by 2030 and 1,000GW by 2050.
The symbol of China’s supremacy in the wind energy sector is the 7.96GW Gansu Wind Farm Project- the world’s largest onshore wind farm built in desert areas near Jiuquan in Gansu province. With an investment of around $17.5bn and involvement of more than 20 developers, the so-called Jiuquan Wind Power Base expected to have a total capacity of 20GW in 2020.
However, studies show that despite China’s leading position in wind energy installation, the wind turbines produce less power than they potentially could, which makes the U.S. a leader in production. The main cause of Chinese underperformance is the placement of the wind farms – the turbines are built mostly in the wind-rich Northern and Western provinces, whereas most of the population lives on the East side of the Mainland China. Moreover, a significant amount of turbines is not connected to the grid due to transmission limitation, which has led to the generated power remaining underused.