In the past two years China has continually upgraded its wind power capacity and now it ranks first in Asia and fourth worldwide, but there are still many setbacks that prevent China from fully utilizing its wind resources.
China's newly-installed wind power capacity was up 108 percent to 7.2 million kilowatts in 2008, doubling for four consecutive years. China's cumulative wind power capacity reached 13 million kilowatts, signifying that China has achieved its 2010 goal of 10 million kilowatts of wind power capacity two years earlier than scheduled.
China's wind energy resources are so abundant that the exploitable wind power reserve is about 1 billion kilowatts in a 1:3 land to sea ratio.
China's wind power industry started in the 1980s, and although it started late, it has developed fast and is expected to maintain a long-term, high-development pace in the future. Its profitability is expected to grow as technology gradually matures.
By the end of 2008, 12 provinces in China each had a wind power capacity of 200,000 kilowatts and in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Hebei, the wind power capacity exceeded 1 million kilowatts. In addition, China started building 10 million-kilowatt wind power stations starting in Jiuquan, Gansu province.
Construction of wind power stations was also put on the agenda in Jiangsu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Hebei, which are now actively preparing to build. In early 2009, 25 provinces in China had wind power installations.
The growing market demand for wind power generation has greatly encouraged domestic industries for manufacturing wind generators and components.
China has more than 70 complete-set manufacturers, more than 50 turbine blade manufacturers, nearly 20 generator manufacturers, more than 10 converter manufacturers and nearly 100 turbine tower manufacturers. Some domestic products, especially generator components, have entered the international market, and it is estimated that China will become the world's leading wind power equipment manufacturing country by 2015.
Although China has abundant inland and offshore wind energy resources and great momentum for growth in its wind power generation industry, this industry faces serious challenges. China has not mastered the core technologies of wind power generation, and there are still many other problems badly in need of solutions.
First, the most serious problem is the bottleneck of China's electricity grid system. In 2008, China's wind generators produced 10 million kilowatts of electricity, but only 8 million kilowatts were incorporated in the power network and the other 2 million kilowatts were simply wasted.
This is mainly because of outdated power grids, insufficient technology to incorporate wind power into grids and poor management. It is like there are too many vehicles and not enough roads.
Second, China has lagged behind certain developed countries in industrial planning as well as investigating and valuing wind energy resources. The decentralized manufacturing industry lacks integration and research and development capability. Third, the cost of wind power generation is 0.2 yuan per kilowatt-hour higher than that of thermal power generation, which has made power companies less enthusiastic about it.
Furthermore, the policy environment for the industry should be further improved. The government should introduce more preferential policies in aspects such as investments, taxes and technological development.'