Renewable, Nontoxic Wind Power Costs Falling
|May 21, 2005||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Renewable, Nontoxic Wind Power Costs Falling
Chinese island tapping into wind power
Here are portions of a recent report circulated by evworld.com and the Reuters news agency.
by Nao Nakanishi
Windmills line the mountain ridges of the picturesque southern Chinese island of Nanao, sending power into the grid of Guangdong province, the worlds manufacturing center.
And soon the tiny island, located 200 miles northeast of Hong Kong, will be home to Chinas first offshore wind farm as the worlds seventh-largest economy seeks to end crippling power shortages and choking air pollution.
Chinas parliament passed a renewable energy law in February, which experts say should attract investors to clean power. The law, effective next year, sets tariffs in favor of non-fossil energy, such as wind, water and solar power.
. Because of its sheer size,” said Robin Oakley, a Beijing-based Greenpeace campaign manager for climate and energy issues, “if China enters the game — both as the worlds leading market and in the long run as the worlds leading producer — it could easily transform the whole renewable energy sector worldwide.
Greenpeace estimated Chinese wind power potential at 1 million megawatts (MW), more than twice Chinas current total installed power generating capacity of 440,700 MW.
But with the primary source of power — coal — delivering 70 percent of Chinas electricity, there is a long way to go before the young wind power industry can establish a full place in Chinas energy mix.
Still, Chinas turn towards non-fossil energy comes at a time when the country is wrestling with its worst power crunch in decades. More than two-thirds of its provinces suffered blackouts last year due to a shortage of generators, coal and transport links.
Far from Chinas mines and hit hard by the power crunch, Guangdong became the first Chinese province last year to introduce fixed prices for wind energy, a policy common among countries with rapid growth in wind energy, such as Denmark.
The security regarding the tariff is the number one issue for making sure wind development projects take place, said Wim Lansink, from Shantou Dan Nan Wind Power Co. Ltd., which is developing Nanaos 100-MW offshore wind farm.
I do believe if it is successful here — and it looks to be — then other provinces will follow, the general manager told Reuters in Shantou, a coastal city in northern Guangdong.
Shantou Dan Nan, a joint venture between Dutch power utility Nuon and power authorities of Shantou city, has run a 24-MW wind farm on Nanao since 1998. It is developing five wind power projects in China, including two others in Guangdong.
Fast Deployment Beats Conventional Power Plants By Far
Wind power could offer a quick solution to Chinas power woes as wind farms are relatively faster to set up, experts say. China would benefit from rapid technological advances in the global wind power industry, on the back of annual growth of about 30 percent over the past decade, they said.
We can erect a 150-200 MW plant in one year, said Jens Olsen, chief representative of Vestas Asia Pacific, a unit of the worlds biggest wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems, headquartered in Denmark. If you build a coal-fired power plant, it usually takes three to five years. Nuclear power plants need even longer.
Potential ‘bigger than hydro’
Experts said China, with its large land mass in the north and the west and a coastline stretching thousands of miles, was blessed with wind resources.
Said Li Junfeng, secretary general of Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, “… in the longer term — 20 to 50 years — the potential for wind power may be even bigger than hydro. Wind energy is one of the fastest-developing areas in China.
Prices for wind power are falling fast in line with technological innovations and growing economies of scale, while crude oil prices nearly tripled in the past few years, partly due to surging demand from China. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association said costs for wind power had dropped from 20 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour 20 years ago to just 5 cents, equivalent to the costs of conventional energy.
With new turbines today, we are competitive. And the prices are still coming down because turbines are getting bigger and more efficient, said Vestas Olsen.
How about your own nation, do you seek freedom from dependence on imported fossil fuels? Share your views with The Progress Report!