Overview of China’s wind development
China’s wind resource
China has abundant exploitable wind resources both onshore and offshore due to its large land area and long coastline. The 4th National Wind Resource Investigation, using data from 400 wind masts refined with computer simulations, gives the results summarized in the table below. China’s commercial onshore potential is between 1,000 and 4000 GW; and the offshore potential in waters from 5-50m deep is another 500 GW.
|Technically exploitable potential of onshore wind resources (GW)|
|Height above the ground||
Grade 4 or higher
(wind power density ≥400w/m2)
Grade 3 or higher
(wind power density ≥300w/m2)
Grade 2 or higher
(wind power density ≥200w/m2)
Source：ERI & IEA “China Wind Energy Development Roadmap 2050”, 2010
Main market developments in 2012
Since 2011 the Chinese wind market has been in a consolidation phase, and last year installations were down by 26% to ‘only’ 12.96 GW, a similar level to 2009. Although China still maintains its position as a global wind leader in cumulative terms with a total of 75.32 GW, it ceded it’s No. 1 position in the annual market in 2012 to the US (13.1 GW) for the first time since 2008. The Chinese market represented about 27% of the global market in 2012, down from 49.5% in 2010, and 43% in 2011.
Despite the slow-down wind energy became the third largest source of electricity in China, for the first time surpassing nuclear power. This change is in accordance with the government’s efforts to increase its use of renewable energy as a means to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and cut reliance on fossil fuels. In October 2012, the State Council released its ‘White Paper on China’s Energy Policy 2012’, setting a target of 11.4% of primary energy and 30% of electrical generation capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. By the end of 2012, non-fossil fuel energy sources already accounted for 29.5% of China’s electricity generation capacity.
Fourteen Chinese provinces have now passed the 1 GW milestone, of which eleven are located in the ‘three northern wind regions’. Overall, in 2012, five provinces surpassed 1 GW in new installed capacity, including for the first time a typical lower wind speed area, Yunnan province. However, in some of the historically more prominent wind areas such as Hebei, Liaoning and Heilongjiang, installations dropped below 1 GW.
The Chinese wind industry
The top three Chinese manufacturers in 2012 were Goldwind (2,521.5 MW), Guodian United Power (2,029 MW), and Sinovel (1,203 MW), accounting for a 44% share of the annual market. A dark horse entering the top ten players was Envision with 544 MW, more than doubling its market share and moving up from 15th in 2011 to 7th place in 2012.