New aid grant for renewables in China

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A $25.83 million grant to boost the commercialisation of renewables in China was announced last month. The financing is to come from the World Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF), via the UN Development Program (UNDP), and from the Dutch and Chinese governments. The five year project is to help develop market orientated institutions and instruments to attract new renewables, such as wind or solar, for rural electrification.

China's Economic and Trade Commission will oversee the project, with help from its Environmental Protection Administration. One of the goals is to help initiate a China Renewable Energy Industries Association to get training under way for policy makers and to create development standards.

The news comes as leaders at the World Bank are preparing finance for five wind projects totalling 190 MW in China. The board is expected to consider the loan of $100 million this month. The project, by far the largest wind development in the works at the bank right now, was first publicised a year ago (Windpower Monthly, April 1998). A grant of $7.3 million will come from the GEF and the Chinese government. The GEF is also granting $6 million to help strengthen the institutions to be involved.

An international tender will be issued for the nacelles and blades, but not for the other parts of wind turbines, which will be made in China. The projects have already taken years of effort. Preparatory work was initiated at the bank as long ago as 1995. It is the first time the World Bank has been involved in wind in China.

Four private development companies, offshoots of Chinese provincial utilities and governments, are being established to build the projects. The largest -- 100 MW -- is slated for Huiting Xile in Inner Mongolia. A second large project, at Zhangbei in Hubei province, also in Inner Mongolia, will be 50 MW. (Inner Mongolia is especially crucial, as its grid is connected to Beijing.) The Pingtan wind plant in Fujian province in south-east China will have a capacity of 20 MW, while there are two planned for Shanghai municipality, one on Chongming Island of 14 MW and one at Nanhui with a capacity of 6 MW.

Sri Lanka

Also in Asia, construction of the first grid connected wind farm in Sri Lanka, partly financed by the World Bank, has just been completed. The 3 MW plant -- five 600 kW NEG Micon turbines -- was in the ground in late February and was expected to start operating within days or weeks.

The wind farm, part of a far larger energy project backed by multi-lateral aid, was first proposed in 1996. Of the international backing, $800,000 comes from the GEF. The International Development Agency (IDA), part of the World Bank that makes loans for development projects but on more lenient terms than does the bank, provided $2.1 million. The balance of the wind plant's financing is from the government of Sri Lanka and from private parties. The plant is to be operated for the Pre-Electrification Unit of the Ceylon Energy Board.

The entire Sri Lanka energy aid project, which includes photovoltaics and demand side management, is consuming $58 million in loans and financing being invested in energy services in the country, where some 70% of people live in homes not connected to the grid. Of the $58 million, $26 million is credit from the IDA, $7.3 million comes from the GEF, and the balance is from the Sri Lankan government and private banks.

Officials at the World Bank say they are looking at more wind in Sri Lanka, although this time with private sector involvement, and the UNDP is financing technical assistance with a view to more development too. A specific plan may have been devised in about one year, say officials.

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