Asia Minute: China’s Big Wind

Feb 11, 2016

Wind power in China
Credit Wikipedia Commons

The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative says wind power is one of the “most viable” options for the state when it comes to renewable energy. It’s also a growing source of electricity in China. And new figures out this week shows the pace of adoption is picking up there. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

About a third of the world’s wind power is online in China….which has now blown past the European Union as the leading region for this energy source.  17% of the globe’s wind power capacity is installed in the United States…about 10% is in Germany.

The fourth-largest market for wind power used to be Spain….now it’s India.  Those figures came Wednesday in a state of the industry report from the Global Wind Energy Council.  Around the world, 63 gigawatts of wind power were added last year—nearly half of it in China.

Analysts say one gigawatt of power can provide energy for about 700-thousand homes.  For comparison, the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River has a capacity of two gigawatts.  But capacity is only part of the story—electricity must be integrated into a power grid for distribution—and the uneven nature of the supply of wind power is a complicating factor.

When installed capacity is not used, it’s called “curtailment”—and that remains a consistent challenge for China….and other locations using renewable energy—including Hawai‘i.  China’s policy goal remains to derive up to 30-percent of its energy needs from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2020.