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The Chinese Ministry of Power Industry has high hopes for wind energy, with plans for 1000 MW of wind plant by the end of the century. In order to achieve this goal, the state has approved a provisional regulation for more favourable pricing of wind power -- and is considering reduction of value-add tax, income tax, and import tariffs.

"The rapid development of wind power cannot succeed without support from government, and it is particularly the case as wind power traditionally drew far less attention than conventional power sources," says Yin Lian, chief of New Energy for Power Division at the ministry.

Wind power will play an important role in China's restructuring of its power industry, according to ministry officials. About 120 million people are still denied access to electricity, most of them living in the thinly-settled, remote, mountainous or pastoral regions where the installation of wind driven generators will be less expensive than the extension of long distance power transmission lines from major power plants. Moreover, China's power industry is now dominated by coal plants. Pressing environmental considerations and the problems of transporting coal vast distances make it necessary to change this structure.

"China's coal is largely distributed in its west, while most of giant power plants are located in the more prosperous east. At present, 22% of railway freight volume is devoted to coal consumed by power plants," according to Yin. This poses a heavy burden to the already clogged national rail transport and it makes both economic and ecological sense to develop wind power in China. "As wind power demands less investment and has far more flexibility in operation, it suits China particularly well," says Yin.

As well as about 2 MW of small wind chargers, China has 14 wind power stations, made up of 99 imported turbines with a total capacity of 14.6 MW. The largest is the 2 MW Dabancheng Station in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, built in December 1992. Turbines in China have been supplied by Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the US and Sweden, with Denmark providing the most financial support, some $26 million in loans, according to the ministry.

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