China places major wind plant orders

After a decade of research, Chinese wind power development is underway. What's more, for the first time wind projects are going ahead which are no longer reliant on Western aid. China is aiming for 400 MW of wind power by 2000. Orders for over 70 MW of wind turbines have gone to Danish companies Micon and Vestas, and Tacke of Germany.

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Strong signals from China indicate the country is at last embarking upon serious and steady development of large scale wind power plants after a decade of building demonstration projects. Not only have central authorities recently placed orders for over 70 MW of wind turbines, the projects are being paid for out of Chinese investment funds -- a significant departure from the past where wind development has been almost entirely supported by overseas aid programmes.

Furthermore, wind power is included as a key development sector under China's "Double Increase" programme, part of the ninth five year plan. The programme's goal is to develop 400 MW of wind power by 2000, recently revised from a more unrealistic level of 1000 MW (Windpower Monthly, September 1996). To date the country has about 50 MW of grid connected turbines in operation or under construction, by far the majority of which were imported. The programme goal is dependent on local manufacture of turbines, with joint ventures with overseas wind companies a distinct possibility.

The development drive is being co-ordinated by the China Fulen Windpower Development Corporation, a central government agency with responsibility for choosing sites, selecting technology suppliers and arranging finance. All commercial considerations, including financing details, are dealt with by a "commercial window" agency, China-nam Kvong.

The new orders for wind turbines have gone to Danish companies Micon and Vestas, while Tacke of Germany in August reported a sale of 11, 300 kW units to the north west of Hebei province (Windpower Monthly, September 1996). Micon announced last month that it is to supply 66, 600 kW wind turbines, of which 34 are to be delivered as complete units and 32 as partially assembled machines. In both cases towers will be made locally in China. The wind turbines will be installed in Inner Mongolia for Inner Mongolia Electric Power and in the province of Zhejiang for the Zhejiang Provincial Electric Power Company. Shipping of the first machines started from the port of Hamburg on November 25-26 when components were loaded into 29 containers, each 40 feet long.

The Vestas order, also announced last month, is for 56, 600 kW wind turbines. It has not yet advanced to the shipping stage, but the company says the machines will be delivered this year to the Xinjiang Electric Power Company for installation at Dabencheng in Xinjiang province. Here they will join 12.15 MW of Micon, Bonus and Nordtank turbines installed over the past decade and financed with Danish overseas aid.

Vestas also says it has total orders for 100 turbines for delivery in the provinces of Xinjiang, Zheijiang, Inner Mongolia and Hebei, but these projects are still awaiting final approve by the Chinese authorities. The provinces have all been earmarked for considerable wind development over the next three years (Windpower Monthly, June 1995). To date, Xinjiang has the most wind capacity in China, followed by Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Guangdong, Liaoning and Fujian, all with over one megawatt.

Repeating history

It is Micon's fourth project in China and the company is quick to appreciate that Danida aid has opened the door for the recent order. Previous sales amounted to 32 turbines, all financed through Danida soft loans. "The Indian market started for Micon with a Danida contract and developed to become one of the world's largest markets for wind turbines where Micon technology has a market share of 40-50%. There is good reason to believe history will repeat itself," states the company's Palle Hinze Jensen.

Director Ole Bøgelund Nielsen adds: "What we have seen so far is only the start of something we have great expectations of. I expect that in the future China will be a major market, just as Germany and India are today." Micon has now sold a total of 98 turbines to China totalling just over 50 MW. Once all the machines are installed it will have more wind power operating in China than any other company, taking over the roll of fellow Danish company Nordtank. In mid 1996, 18.8 MW of Nordtank turbines were turning in China, accounting for about half the country's installed wind capacity.

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