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China

Heading offshore in China

A German wind energy developer and investment consultancy has gained approval from the provincial government of Guangdong, China, to build a 20 MW offshore wind power plant two kilometres from the coast in the area of Nan'ao Islands, at the north end of Dongshan Island. The project is a joint venture with a Chinese firm and is the first to be built in Chinese waters.

German wind energy developer and investment consultancy InfraVest GmbH has gained approval from the provincial government of Guangdong, China, to build a 20 MW offshore wind power plant two kilometres from the coast in the area of Nan'ao Islands, at the north end of Dongshan Island. InfraVest will develop the project in a joint venture with Nan'ao Zhengneng Wind Power Company.

It is a double first -- the first wind power plant built in Chinese waters and InfraVest's first offshore venture, says the company, although it adds that it is involved in offshore proposals in Germany. Turbines from Germany and Denmark are the most likely options, says InfraVest, with a 2.5 MW model favoured. The purchase is likely to be made through international bidding.

InfraVest is to raise the estimated CNY 241.7 million needed to build the project, while Zhengneng will take responsibility for its construction and operation. The project is scheduled for completion in two years. "Cost won't be a problem," says InfraVest's Song Yanxia, noting the developer will secure a long term power purchase contract with the local grid company. "Given the size of the offshore plant, the amount of money involved is very limited."

With offshore wind farms expected to be around 20% more productive than onshore plants, Guangdong's provincial government is said to be particularly keen on the project. While the South China province is enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, it has suffered badly from the energy shortage that began hitting the country a year ago. Government statistics for this summer show electricity supply was 2.3-2.7 million kilowatt hours short of the region's demand. Offshore wind power is seen as a possible solution to the shortfall. Guangdong boasts a coastline of over 3300 kilometres, with rich wind resources.

In terms of installed wind capacity, Guangdong ranks fourth among China's provinces, with 86.39 MW at the end of last year, including China's second largest wind project, the 56.59 MW Nan'ao wind farm. It is also home to one of China's first two wind farms being developed for franchised operation -- the 100 MW Huilai wind station. Currently under construction, the station will be fully operational in 2006 and will be capable of meeting the electricity needs of 10,000 households.

Other regions in China are also investigating the potential for offshore wind power, with the provinces of Shanghai and Jiangsu both currently assessing opportunities. Wind monitoring equipment has been installed around Shanghai's coast, while in Jiangsu there is talk of siting wind turbines in the tidal basin close to the planned 200 MW Rudong wind farm, which is to be built in two 100 MW phases for franchised operation. The first phase is now under construction, with the tendering result for the second phase due to be announced soon.

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