Wind power in China

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China is a world leader in wind power generation, with the largest installed capacity of any nation[1] and continued rapid growth in new wind facilities.[2]

With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind power resources:[3] it is estimated China has about 2,380 gigawatts (GW) of exploitable capacity on land and 200 GW on the sea.[4]

Panorama of Envision's wind farm in Shanxi, China
A wind power turbine in Liu'ao Peninsula, Fujian

In 2016, China added 19.3 GW of wind power generation capacity[5] to reach a total capacity of 149 GW,[5] and generated 241 TWh of electricity, representing 4% of total national electricity consumption. Both China's installed capacity and new capacity in 2015 are the largest in the world by a wide margin, with the next largest market, the United States, adding 8.6 GW in 2015 and having an installed capacity of 74.4 GW.[6] Due to a substantially higher capacity factor, the United States remains, by a slight margin, the world leader when ranked by production, having generated 190.9 TWh of electricity in 2015. China is forecast to have 250 GW of wind capacity by 2020 as part of the government's pledge to produce 15 percent of all electricity from renewable resources in this year.[7] As of end 2015 the countries when ranked by total installations were: 1. China, 2. United States. 3. Germany 4. India. 5. Spain and 6. United Kingdom.[8]

China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country's economy;[9] researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.[10] However, in practice, the use of wind energy in China has not always kept up with the remarkable construction of wind power capacity in the country.[11]


A Goldwind wind farm outside of Urumqi, Xinjiang

The largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer in China is Goldwind from Xinjiang province. Established in 1998, Goldwind aggressively developed new technology and expanded its market share, though this then decreased from 35% in 2006 to 19% in 2012.[12][13] As of 2014, Goldwind remains the largest competitor in the Chinese wind energy market, with a 19% share of new installations. It is followed by Guodian United Power Technology Company (a subsidiary of China Guodian Corporation) at 11%, and Mingyang Wind Power at 9%.[14]

The China Longyuan Electric Power Group Corp., another subsidiary of China Guodian Corporation, was an early pioneer in wind farm operation; at one point it operated 40% of the wind farms in China.[15]

Chinese developers unveiled the world’s first permanent Maglev wind turbine at the Wind Power Asia Exhibition 2006 held June 28 in Beijing. The Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Technology company invested CN¥400 million in building the base for the maglev wind turbine generators, in which construction began in November 2007. Zhongke Hengyuan expects a yearly revenue of CN¥1.6 billion from the generators.

Wind power in the PRC
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Capacity (MW)[16] 1,260 2,599 5,912 12,200 16,000 31,100 62,700 75,000 91,424 114,763 129,700 149,000
Production (GWh)[17] 1,927 3,675 5,710 14,800 26,900 44,622 74,100 103,000[18] 134,900 153,400 186,300 241,000
Wind power turbine towers in Liu'ao, near the "Abstract Art Gallery"
Wind turbine tower elements in an assembly facility in Liu'ao, Zhangpu County, Fujian

In 2005, the standing committee of the National People's Congress passed a law that requires Chinese power grid enterprises to purchase all the electricity produced by the renewable energy sector.[19]

In 2006 the Shanghai Power Company purchased 64.485 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of green energy (primarily from wind farms), yet the amount of renewable energy which was subscribed by customers from Shanghai Power Company was only 23% of that total. In 2006 there were just 6,482 households in Shanghai that subscribed to renewable energy in part because the cost of wind power is 0.53 Yuan/kWh higher than power produced from coal plants; in 2007 total output of wind farms in Shanghai will total 100 GWh, which is sufficient to power 120,000 households. Though there were 22 entities that purchased renewable energy in Shanghai, though with the exception of 1/3 of that total being state owned enterprises, the remainder was foreign invested enterprises. Shanghai’s city government did not purchase any renewable energy. Of the top ten power customers in Shanghai, only Bao Steel purchased renewable energy; in 2006 Bao Steel entered into an agreement to purchase 1.2 GWh over three years.[20]

The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), aiming to diversify from its core oil and gas business, will be seeking international companies interested in cooperating with them to develop offshore wind farms, said CNNOOC president Fu Chengyu at a conference in Hainan Province on April 22, 2007.[21]

According to reports from the 2007 China (Shanghai) International Wind Energy Exhibition held on April 10, 2007 at the Shanghai New International Exhibition Center, by 2010, 5% of Shanghai’s energy needs will be generated from wind power. Shanghai’s first domestically produced wind farm will locate in Lingang New Town; the 7 MW wind farm will begin generating power in early 2008 and the power generated from this wind farm will be connected to the Huadong Eastern China Power Grid. Over the past several years new wind farms have been built in Shanghai, including the Nanhui Wind Farm, the Qinjian Bay Wind Farm and the Chongming Dongtan (Eastern Beaches) Wind Farm. Together these three wind farms have 18 wind turbines with a total of 24.4 MW.

By the end of 2008, at least 15 Chinese companies were commercially producing wind turbines and several dozen more were producing components.[22] Turbine sizes of 1.5 MW to 3 MW became common. Leading wind power companies in China were Goldwind, Dongfang Electric, and Sinovel[23] along with most major foreign wind turbine manufacturers.[24] China also increased production of small-scale wind turbines to about 80,000 turbines in 2008. Through all these developments, the Chinese wind industry appeared unaffected by the global financial crisis, according to industry observers.[23]

In 2010, China became the largest wind energy provider worldwide, with the installed wind power capacity reaching 41.8 GW at the end of 2010, but about a quarter of this was not connected to the grid.[25]

In 2011, China put forth a plan to have 100 GW of grid-connected wind power capacity by the end of 2015 and to generate 190 terawatt-hours of wind power annually,[26] and in 2014 it met its capacity target early.[27] China was the first country in the world to reach 100 GW of installed wind capacity.[14]

Wind power by province[edit]

Wind power in China by province[28]
Province Capacity
(2016 year-end, MW)
Electricity production
(2016, GWh)
Capacity factor Curtailment (waste) rate Province population
Watts per capita
China Total 148,640 241,000 19.9% 1339.7 111
Inner Mongolia 25,570 46,400 20.9% 21% 24.7 1035
Xinjiang 17,760 22,000 14.7% 38% 21.8 814
Gansu 12,770 13,600 12.4% 43% 25.6 499
Hebei 11,880 21,900 23.7% 9% 71.9 165
Ningxia 9,420 12,900 17.7% 13% 6.2 1525
Shandong 8,390 14,700 21.3% 95.8 88
Shanxi 7,710 13,500 22.1% 9% 35.7 216
Yunnan 7,370 14,800 25.4% 4% 46.0 160
Liaoning 6,950 12,900 22.0% 13% 43.7 159
Heilongjiang 5,610 8,800 19.0% 19% 38.3 146
Jiangsu 5,610 9,800 22.6% 78.7 71
Jilin 5,050 6,700 15.2% 30% 27.5 184
Guizhou 3,620 5,500 20.6% 34.7 104
Guangdong 2,680 5,000 21.1% 104.3 26
Shaanxi 2,490 2,800 22.3% 7% 37.3 67
Hunan 2,170 3,900 24.3% 65.7 33
Fujian 2,140 5,000 28.6% 36.9 58
Hubei 2,010 3,500 23.6% 57.2 35
Anhui 1,770 3,400 24.1% 59.5 30
Sichuan 1,250 2,100 25.7% 80.4 16
Zhejiang 1,190 2,300 24.7% 54.4 22
Jiangxi 1,080 1,900 24.1% 44.6 24
Henan 1,040 1,800 21.7% 94.0 11
Shanghai 710 1,400 24.7% 23.0 31
Qinghai 690 1,000 19.7% 5.6 123
Guangxi 670 1,300 27.0% 46.0 15
Hainan 310 600 20.3% 8.7 36
Tianjin 290 600 23.7% 12.9 22
Chongqing 280 500 18.3% 28.8 10
Beijing 190 300 20.0% 19.6 10
Tibet 10 10 21.8% 3.0 3

Offshore wind[edit]

China set an ambitious goal of 5 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2015 and 30 GW by 2020. However, development of offshore wind power did not come as fast as expected. Construction of Donghai Bridge Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in China started in April 2009, close to Donghai Bridge, and commissioned in 2010 to provide electricity to the 2010 Shanghai Expo. The wind farm consists of 34 Sinovel 3 MW wind turbines at a cost of US$ 102 million.[3][29][30] The next is the 150 MW Longyuan Rudong Intertidal Wind Farm costing 500 million ¥, operational in 2012.[31][32][33] By the end of 2012, China had only installed 389.6 MW offshore wind capacity, still far from the target goal of 5 GW by the end of 2015.[34]

In May 2014, total capacity of offshore wind power in China was 565 MW,[35] which raised to about 900 MW in 2015, less than a fifth of the expected target.[36] Installations increased substantially in 2016, with 592 MW of offshore wind power capacity deployed, ranking third in the world behind Germany and the Netherlands.[37] By the end of 2016, the total cumulative offshore wind power capacity in the country was 1.9 GW.[38]

Offshore wind development slower pace in China is mainly due to the lack of experience of domestic turbine manufacturers in the sector. This forces local development to use foreign products, resulting in Siemens being the largest supplier of offshore wind turbines in China. Another problem is the huge investment needed and associated risks of offshore development, which discourage private companies.[36]

Small wind turbines and solar power panels on lamp posts in Minhang District, Shanghai

Future wind farms[edit]

The Gansu Wind Farm Project under construction in western Gansu province is one of six national wind power megaprojects approved by the Chinese government. It is expected to grow to 20,000 MW by 2020, at an estimated cost of 120 billion Chinese yuan ($17.5 billion). In 2008, construction began on a 750 kV AC power line to carry electricity from the wind farm.[39]

When complete, the complex of wind farms at Gansu may become the world's largest collective wind farm.[40]


Areas with great wind power potential such as Gansu are sometimes far away from established industrial and residential centers. Coal-fired plants have a constituency of miners and local governments which wind-power projects lack. This has led to underutilization of the power produced by wind power.[41]

Transmission capacity of the grid hasn't kept up with the growth of China's wind farms. In 2009, only 72% (8.94 GW) of China’s total wind power capacity was connected to the grid.[42] In 2014, 96.37 GW of China's capacity was connected to the grid,[43] out of a total capacity of 114.6 GW.[14] In the first half of 2015, 1.75 TWh of wind power was wasted according to China's National Energy Administration. The slowdown in the Chinese economy in 2015 also led to overcapacity in the power sector, reducing demand.[44] In an effort to reduce excess power capacity and encourage greater utilization of renewables, the Chinese government halted approvals for construction of new coal power plants for the three-year period starting in 2016.[45] Combined curtailment of North China wind power was nearly 34 TWh in 2015.[46]

In 2014, the US generated more electricity from wind (167 TWh) despite a lower generating capacity because of China's connectivity and grid capacity problems.[47] According to a 2013 report in The Economist, the US produced 40% more energy from a similar capacity of wind power, because Chinese wind farms are not efficiently connected to the power grid.[48]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "China's new wind power capacity hits record high - Xinhua |". Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  3. ^ a b Oceans of Opportunity: Harnessing Europe’s largest domestic energy resource pp. 18-19.
  4. ^ Wind provides 1.5% of China's electricity Wind Power Monthly, 5 December 2011
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  6. ^ "U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report" (PDF). American Wind Energy Association. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Cusick,ClimateWire, Daniel. "China Blows Past the U.S. in Wind Power". Scientific American. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
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  9. ^ Gow, David (2009-02-03). "Wind power becomes Europe's fastest growing energy source". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  10. ^ "China Could Replace Coal with Wind". Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  11. ^ Andrews-Speed, Philip (November 2014). "China’s Energy Policymaking Processes and Their Consequences". The National Bureau of Asian Research Energy Security Report. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
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  13. ^ Lema, Adrian and Kristian Ruby, ”Between fragmented authoritarianism and policy coordination: Creating a Chinese market for wind energy”, Energy Policy, Vol. 35, Issue 7, July 2007
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  16. ^ "Wind Electricity Installed Capacity". International Energy Statistics. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  17. ^ "Wind Electricity Net Generation". International Energy Statistics. EIA. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  18. ^ "Annual Statistics of China Power Industry 2012". China Electric Council. 
  19. ^ "Renewable Energy Law of the People's Republic of China". Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China. December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Operation of quoting and bidding system in Shanghai power generation market" (PDF). 2003-09-12. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  21. ^ "Datang wins first offshore wind farm". 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  22. ^ "Caprotti Federico (2009) China's Cleantech Landscape: The Renewable Energy Technology Paradox ''Sustainable Development Law & Policy '' Spring 2009: 6–10" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  23. ^ a b REN21 (2009). Renewables Global Status Report: 2009 Update p. 16.
  24. ^ Adrian Lema and K. Ruby, “Towards a policy model for climate change mitigation: China's experience with wind power development and lessons for developing countries”, Energy for Sustainable Development, Vol. 10, Issue 4.
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  26. ^ "China revises up 2015 renewable energy goals: report". Reuters. August 29, 2011. 
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  28. ^
  29. ^ Xinhuanet news
  30. ^ Donghai Bridge (China) offshore wind farm 4C . Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
  31. ^ China's largest offshore project now online
  32. ^ Xinhuanet: Pilot project paves way for China's offshore wind power boom
  33. ^ Longyuan Rudong Intertidal (China) offshore wind farm 4C . Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
  34. ^ Windpower Monthly. China unable to archive 5GW offshore wind goal by 2015.
  35. ^ "Detailed appraisal of the offshore wind industry in China". The Carbon Trust. May 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  36. ^ a b "China set for a GW-scale offshore wind market in 2016 - Bloomberg New Energy Finance". Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 
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  38. ^ "China Can Expect a Surge in Offshore Wind Farms, Goldwind Says". 11 January 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  39. ^ Peter Fairley. China's Potent Wind Potential Technology Review, September 14, 2009.
  40. ^ Watts, Jonathan & Huang, Cecily. Winds Of Change Blow Through China As Spending On Renewable Energy Soars, The Guardian, March 19, 2012, revised on March 20, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  41. ^ Javier C. Hernández (January 15, 2017). "It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2017. 
  42. ^ Xina Xie; Michael Economides (July 30, 2009). "Great Leap Forward for China’s Wind Energy". Energy Tribune. Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  43. ^
  44. ^ Yu, Jie (December 28, 2015). "China’s west tries to harness more of its wind power". China Dialogue. 
  45. ^ "China to Halt New Coal Mine Approvals Amid Pollution Fight". Bloomberg. December 29, 2015. 
  46. ^ 何珊. "Lots of wind power wasted: energy administration". Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  47. ^
  48. ^ "The East is grey". The Economist. August 10, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 

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