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China added 3,304 MW of wind energy capacity during 2007, representing market growth of 145 per cent over 2006, and now ranks fifth in total installed wind energy capacity worldwide, with 5,906 MW at the end of 2007. However, experts estimate that this is just the beginning, and that the real growth in China is yet to come. Based on current growth rates, GWEC forecasts a capacity of around 200 GW by 2020. The official government target of 30 GW by 2020 is likely to be met as early as 2012 or 2013.
Figure 4.6: Growth of the Chinese Market, 2000-2007
Source: GWEC and Greenpeace (2008)
The regions with the best wind regimes are located mainly along the Southeast coast and in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu Province’s Hexi Corridor and in some parts of Northeast China, Northwest China, Northern China and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
Satisfying the rocketing electricity demand and reducing air pollution are the main driving forces behind the development of wind energy in China. However, given the country’s substantial coal resources and the still relatively low cost of coal-fired generation, reducing the cost of wind power is a crucial issue; this is being addressed through the development of large-scale projects and boosting local manufacturing of wind turbines.
The Chinese Government estimates that the localisation of wind turbine manufacturing brings benefits to the local economy and helps keep costs down. Moreover, since most good wind sites are located in remote and poorer rural areas, wind farm construction benefits the local economy through the annual income tax paid to county governments, which represents a significant proportion of their budget. Other benefits include grid extension for rural electrification as well as employment in wind farm construction and maintenance.
The wind manufacturing industry in China is booming. While in the past, imported wind turbines dominated the Chinese market, this is changing rapidly as the growing wind power market and the clear policy direction have encouraged domestic production, and most European manufacturers now produce in China.
The total manufacturing capacity is now about 5,000 MW, and is expected to reach 10-12 GW by 2010.
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