Love wind, fear wind: growing pains of China's wind power industry (2)

09:26, May 29, 2011      

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"The grid is like a giant jar, and wind power is like a river," says Lu Jianjun, director of the wind power office of Inner Mongolia's Chayou Central Banner.

"The Inner Mongolia grid 'jar' is full, but the wind power 'water' keeps flowing in. We have to cut off the 'river'," Lu says.

However, the economic powerhouses of central and eastern China are in need of surplus power. These regions have already faced power shortages this year, with more projected to follow in the coming months.

Wang Zhixuan, secretary general of the CEC, says that China's central and eastern regions need at least 30 GW in additional power to operate smoothly. At the same time, 26 GW of installed power capacity in China's northern regions have been laid idle, most of it generated by wind turbines.

Wang Bingjun, director of the Inner Mongolia Energy Bureau, says "the Inner Mongolia Grid has reached its upper limit in accepting wind power for local consumption. The only solution is to send out wind power over long distances and integrate it into the much larger State Grid."

This, however, is easier said than done.

Longyuan's Qi says "this is hard to do because we do not yet have a concrete method of transmitting wind power."

According to the CEC's February report, China has yet to create a reliable, stable way of transmitting wind power outside of local grids, and also lacks support facilities for these grids.

China's wind power industry is still focused on resources, rather than on power transmission and consumption, the report said.

Inner Mongolia expects to send its surplus wind power through two transmission lines to the neighboring North China Grid. However, wind turbines in the cities of Zhangjiakou and Chengde in north China's Hebei Province are already straining the North China Grid's capacity.

Qi says China should speed up the construction of transmission lines stretching from Inner Mongolia to east China. Inner Mongolia also mapped out the construction of a third transmission line on its own in 2007, but it has yet to be built.

Once again, Gansu is facing similar problems itself. The province built a transmission line to join its Jiuquan power base with the Northwest China Grid.

"However, this transmission line will only transmit 3.3 GW of wind power at the most, far from our current installed capacity of 5.5 GW," says Wang Ningbo, director of the Gansu Provincial Power Company wind power technology center.

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Source: Xinhua
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