China's wind sector lost $1.6 billion in 2012

CHINA: The Chinese wind power sector lost about CNY 10 billion ($1.6 billion), or 20 billion kilowatt hours in electricity, from curtailment in 2012, according to Qin Haiyan, secretary general of the Chinese Wind Energy Association.

Qin said government curtailment had forced 20-30% wind turbines to a standstill on average across the country, and the ratio amounted to 40-50% in some places in 2012.

Therefore, Chinese wind farms, particularly those in northern areas, were on the verge of making an annual loss in 2012.

Chinese regions are separated into four types for wind power development, with benchmark feed-in tariffs ranging from CNY 0.51 to CNY 0.62 per kilowatt hour.

Qin's comments came as Longyuan general manager Xie Changjun said the Chinese government was soliciting public opinions on the third draft of the renewable energy quota system. Once the new mechanism is implemented, the grid will be forced to accept certain proportions of electric power from renewable energy sources.

Qin said the curtailment in 2012 was almost double that of 2011. A major contributing element was that China’s power generation capacity rose considerably in 2012, and wind power gave way to thermal and nuclear power.

"But this runs against the renewable energy law," said Qin. He added this was a matter of interest conflicts. In the cold northern areas, thermal power plants, using combined heat and power turbines, operate in full gears to supply heating in winter. And many wind turbines have to be stopped to give way to thermal plants.  

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