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Overcapacity Leads Innumerable Turbines to Go Wasted or Curbed in China’s Wind Power Plants

(People's Daily Online)    04:25, April 07, 2016

China has installed half of world’s wind power capacity in 2015, overtaking EU to become the global wind power leader at 145.1 gigawatts (GW). However, there are traces showing that the country’s booming wind power industry is facing challenges with grid constraints and shrinking electricity demand.

Reporters from a Chinese online media jiemian.com found the situation far from promising. In some regions in China, especially in the southwestern provinces where wind power is most heavily invested, huge amount of turbines have been curbed or unused. The phenomenon even has a name to call it – “abandoned and curbed wind power” (弃风限电). The wind power plants have been ordered to run 18% lower than its full capacity in Inner Mongolia, 39% less in Gansu, 32% less in Xinjiang, and 32% less in Jilin. It is estimated that these idle wind power equipment have led to a direct economic loss of 16 billion yuan (2.47 billion USD), according to the National Energy Administration.

The major reason for the idleness is a shrinking electricity demand. Take Gansu as an example. The data released by the provincial grid company showed that the total amount of electricity consumption in Gansu last year was 13 GW, whereas the installed new energy power capacity has reached 17.8 GW. The huge margin almost certainly led to a massive amount of turbines go wasted.

One may suggest that Gansu could export the power to other provinces. This is no less likely, as the neighboring provinces have already had their own painstaking problems of “abandoned and curbed wind power”, and farther provinces are not connected to Gansu within the grid net. The turbines had to be stopped. State Grid Corporation of China defends itself by saying that the transmission lines have already been planned and submitted to National Energy Administration, but the latter takes forever to get it approved.

National Energy Administration has another story to tell. “State Grid wants a nation-wide network, so it desperately wanted to get more provinces connected. I think this is reasonable, but Rome is not built in one day,” said Shi Lishan, Deputy Director of New Energy and Renewable Energy Department of National Energy Administration. “From the perspective of energy management, we would wish that the power generated can be absorbed and consumed locally.”

Shi added that the approval of Gansu’s wind power projects have been based on the premise that the power would be “consumed locally”. As both sides play the game of passing the buck, large patches of wind power station still remained halted.


(Original story published on jiemian.com in Chinese, link: http://www.jiemian.com/article/600083.html)

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