China halts northern project approvals

CHINA: China's National Energy Administration (NEA) has suspended approval of new wind power projects in six northern regions due to the amount of wind energy wasted last year.

Wind power in Xinjiang suffered curtailment rates of 32% (pic: taylorandayumi)
Wind power in Xinjiang suffered curtailment rates of 32% (pic: taylorandayumi)

No more new wind capacity in Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang will be approved this year, according to the NEA.

Figures from the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA) showed that a total 33.9TWh of wind energy was wasted last year. The average curtailment rate was about 15% in the country, 7 percentage points higher than in 2014.

Curtailment has been a headache for China, and the situation worsened last year amid a slowing economy.

It could be even higher this year if the situation is not addressed, the NEA warned.

Experts said the imbalanced distribution of wind power and an imperfect grid system were to blame for wind power going to waste. Wind-rich provinces are mostly in the less developed, remote regions in northern China where supply exceeds demand.

Local governments also favour development of thermal power plants, which are key to taxes and jobs, making it difficult for wind companies to sell their power to local grids.

Earlier this month, CWEA asked local authorities in Gansu, Yunnan and Xinjiang to explain curbs on wind power use by local grids. The association said it might seek legal means to protect the interests of wind companies.

The NEA said it would explore ways for efficient wind power use in Gansu and work to solve the problem in the province this year. It will then apply the experience to other parts of the country.

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