Only Germany, and thus
by proxy the EU, has more wind power capacity than the U.S. However, the
U.S.'s chief economic rival, China, is crafting plans to rapidly scale its own
adoption to levels
never before seen in the world.
In windy Dabancheng, an area in western China dominated by the Himalayan
Mountains and strong winds, turbines are being erected forming a massive wind
conduit. The area is fortunate to have one of the strongest on-land wind
flows in the world. Because of this and the strong interest to take
advantage of it, it is projected that the area will become the largest wind
producing sector in the world by next year.
Over the icy planes 118 massive 1.5 MW turbines spin majestically in the
gale. When the project started, it was a mere experiment intended to
power the town of Urumqi. Now it is expanding its capacity to ship
And it's not the only wind rich region China is developing
-- China also has facilities of equal sizes under construction in Gansu, Inner
Mongolia and Jiangsu. This has resulted in torrid wind power growth of
100 percent a year in China since 2005. China hopes that with the help of
the rapid growth it can achieve its goal of getting 15 percent of its power
from alternative energy source by 2020, doubling its alternative energy
percentage in 2005.
Not even the government could predict the success of China's wind effort.
China's planners doubled their predictions for 2010 capacity, having reached
the goal of 5 GW last year, three years early. If current growth
continues the prediction will again have to be doubled by 2010.
Junfeng Li, secretary general of the China Renewable Energy Industries Association
stated in a paper last month, "China is witnessing the start of a golden
age of wind power development, and the magnitude of growth has caught even
policymakers off guard. It is widely believed that wind power will be
able to compete with coal generation by as early as 2015. That will be the
turning point in China, which by then will be the world's largest energy
Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council says that
China is likely to install more new wind capacity than any other nation by
2010, including the U.S. He also believes that by 2010 China may pass the
U.S. as the world's largest turbine maker.
He stated, "China's wind energy market is unrecognizable from two years
ago, it is huge, huge. But it is not realized yet in the outside world. A
few years ago wind energy was boutique, something to show off to foreigners to
prove how green they are but now it is a very serious part of their energy
policy. They can make things happen so quickly in China compared to the
west. When they make up their minds, it is incredible how fast things
Last year China reached 6 GW of capacity, with over 202 wind sites. Azure
International, a consultancy in Beijing reports that 445 more sites have been
earmarked for development in the immediate future -- Chinese wind business
can't keep up with the demand. Back at Dabancheng, the current capacity
is already 110 MW and the company operating the farm, Xijiang Tianfang Wind
Power, plans to increase this another 50 MW by November.
The Chinese take great pride in their wind advances. Li Yanjun, the duty
operator at Dabancheng said, "We call it the Three Gorges of the sky. The
hydroelectric dam there taps the water, here we tap the wind. I've been
here since the beginning. The turbines are like my children. It took 10 years
to reach 64,000 kilowatt/hours because that period was the research phase, but
now the government is committed to wind energy so we can grow quickly."
He continued, referring to the large turbines he operates, "This is the
future in China. Everyone is opting for big turbines. It is more economic
to have one 1,500 kw turbine than two 750kw turbines and the maintenance costs
However, the plant is likely to be surpassed by a new facility in Jiuquan which
plans to boast 3.8 GW of capacity by 2010. It will link with other farms
on China's expanded national grid.
Still, the current capacity falls far short of China's coal power production,
which supplies 70 percent of the state's power. Also, one key problem is
lack of competition with the wind power being controlled by five state-owned
power generation utilities. Still there are promising signs for China,
such as the fact that the turbine industry in China -- typically dominated by
foreign manufacturers like Vestas of Denmark, Gamesa of Spain and General
Electric (GE) of the US -- saw 50 percent of its turbines domestically produced
The biggest of these Chinese manufacturers is Goldwind, which is based in Urumqi.
It created the turbines for the Dabancheng project. It creates 1.5 MW
turbines competitive with foreign designs and is testing a massive industry
leading 3 MW model currently. It has seen amazing growth of 100 percent
or more over each of the last 8 years.
A Goldwind executive, who asked to remain nameless, acknowledged much work
remains. He remarked, "There is still a gap between Chinese
companies and western companies in terms of research and development because we
started later. Most of our technology comes from Germany. But in the
first half of this year, we bought the company that taught us how to do things.
That has solved the problem of research and development. Now we want to start selling
Goldwind sold turbines to Cuba and is hoping to soon sell to Pakistan, the
Philippines and South Korea. If all goes to plan, Goldwind and other
providers may raise China's new capacity to 11 GW this year, with installation
almost three times as much as last year. Sebastian Meyer, director of research
and advisory at Azure International added, "It is probably going to be the
most competitive turbine market in the world very quickly. Elsewhere, it is a
seller's market. Now in China, we are on the tipping point of it becoming a
With coal costs rising and China being forced to import coal from Australia,
wind is becoming increasingly competitive, however, it is still twice the cost
per kilowatt hour as coal. For that reason China will burn 2 billion tons
of coal this year, a third of the total yearly world use. Also wind
capacity is still overshadowed by hydroelectric power, which provides more than
6 percent of the country's power. Some predict that wind could surpass
hydroelectric soon, with some boldly predicting that by 2020 wind will offer
122 GW of capacity, or roughly 10 percent of China's power.
China's rapid rise as a wind power parallels closely to its rise as a global
economic force. Its strong thirst for wind power seems to mark a clear
signal that the technology has strong prospects. Like most things with
China, its wind progress represents a competitive challenge to the U.S., but
also an opportunity.
quote: > "Try 3. That fits in your bathroom, with room to spare. And if you reprocess the waste to form new fuel, then that number becomes 1" And your average coal-fired power plant of the same size produces some 2.5 million tons of waste of year, most of which goes straight into the air we breathe. It's one of the great ironies of life that the so-called "environmentalists" have done more to keep those coal plants running than anyone else in the country.
quote: And finally, about uranium being renewable - yeah, we only have about 12,000 years left of it.
quote: Large ? you know large itself is subjective, something large to you isnt' large to others so define large
quote: Try 3
quote: If you popped the top off of spent nuclear rods your exposure is far more than anything you would get from a coal power plant and you would be dead.
quote: Even in high doses you'd need prolonged exposure to suffer any consequences to radioactivity.
quote: And you get far more energy out than is put in.
quote: BS. You need to google "Laws of thermodynamics". There is absolutely no way to create more energy than you put in a process
quote: converting some of its mass into energy
quote: You guys really seem to have this belief that nuclear power is completely safe,
quote: that the waste is somehow ok to be released into the environment, and that wind and solar are somehow much more expensive. Initial costs place nuclear at 1/2 the cost of wind, but fail to mention the fact that after 50-60 years, they get shut down. It also doesn't consider that there are high ongoing costs for maintenance and running of the plants.
quote: By contrast, if China can achieve 10% of its electrical needs by 2020, then in about 120-150 years, it might be able to achieve 100% of its electrical needs via wind, and it will not have to deal with the complications of nuclear waste or having to constantly replace plants every 60 years or so.
quote: Of course, they don't have idiotic conservationists ruining their country.
quote: In Germany, they're talking about 10,000 GW of electrical output using solar alone. That's the equivalent of about 7,000 super sized nuclear power plants. It's feasible to build these solar plants, while it's completely unfeasible to build 7,000 nuclear power plants.
quote: Translation: you've proven me wrong, but I'm still going to cling to my beliefs anyway.
quote: Oh right we need you here to tell us of the error of our ways and to push us to reform.
quote: Wind power isn't as big a blot on the land as a huge solar installation
quote: The point is, its there, why not use it?
quote: Furthermore, there's no need to even store it in the first place. Advanced reactor designs can burn the "waste" generated by our current crude plants, meaning there's essentially no waste at all.
quote: Eh? Nuclear reactors generate a tiny amount of high-level waste. We can produce power for the next 10,000 years without needing more than a couple small disposal sites in the entire world.
quote: "Affects". And while everything affects the environment, you're ignoring the fact that wind power has large negative effects than nuclear. Besides the need to wallpaper vast tracts with large, noisy, unsightly turbines, there is the environmental damage associated with mining and producing staggering quantities of concrete, steel, and other materials. There's also the much higher quantity of high-tension power lines required.
quote: Do you really want your $100/month power bill to rise to $1000? I think few would agree to that.
quote: Besides the need to wallpaper vast tracts with large, noisy, unsightly turbines, there is the environmental damage associated with mining and producing staggering quantities of concrete, steel, and other materials. There's also the much higher quantity of high-tension power lines required.
quote: Because power grids don't store energy. Wind is an extraordinarily variable power source. Demand is also variable. Plot the two curves next to each other, and you'll see huge areas where supply is far higher than demand, or vice versa, even if the total area under the curves is equal.
quote: Turbines produce noise whenever they turn. They're quite loud in operation. Here's a video recording demonstrating just how noisy they can be, even from 2000+ feet away:
quote: You are mistaken. The AF is the ratio of mean power generated to the "nameplate" (peak) power rating. In a prime location, wind farms average a 30-35% AF....in a poor location, it can dip to 20%.
quote: Honestly, this really isn't that complex an issue; I'm surprised you're having difficulty grasping it. To supply more than 10-20% of total grid demand, wind power must contain a substantial amount of excess capacity. That capacity carries a large capital cost, a cost which ultimately is reflected on the bottom line, whether or not a utility generates the power directly or purchases it from a private provider.
quote: (think you can produce millions of tons of steel and concrete without environmental damage?)
quote: Wind is such a simple way to gain energy, its such a joke to me that more people wouldnt want to tap in, not to mention its been arround forever.
quote: I sometimes try to imagine what North America was like over 2 hundred years ago. Meaning, how clean from industrial waste our rivers and bays were; how free from acid rain and perhaps global warming; how wondrous our vast forests, woodlands, wetlands were; how filled with bison the Great Plains
quote: Even the Amish have more self respect
quote: I completely support the development of alternative energy production
quote: ...or just a lack of right headed leadership that actually respects "outsider" opinions and consensus
quote: But powering an entire nation off wind is a foolish and impractical idea.
quote: It would be foolish NOT to take advantage of such a power source.
quote: They can make things happen so quickly in China compared to the west. When they make up their minds, it is incredible how fast things happen.
quote: Isn't communism great?