Wind wire: Electricity demand

Scientists from Harvard and China's Tsinghua University have determined that China can meet electricity demand projected for 2030 with wind alone.

Their study, published in Science, considered variables including meteorological data and Chinese energy policy to conclude that a hypothetical swath of 1.5 MW wind turbines in onshore regions with favourable wind resources could provide up to 24,700 TWh a year - more than seven times current consumption. To meet anticipated power demand for 2030, China would need the equivalent of 800 GW of new coal-fired plants, but reliance mainly on coal would raise CO2 emissions by as much as 3.5 gigatonnes annually by that year, wrote the researchers. Instead, power demand could be met with 640 GW of new wind plants running at average 30% of rated capacity. Investment of about CNY 6 trillion ($879 billion) would be required. "This is a large but not unreasonable investment given the present size of the Chinese economy," they wrote. Industry estimates for maximum potential wind capacity in China, though, are 250 GW onshore and 750 GW offshore.