Chinese growth


November 18, 2012

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Consider this. In the next six weeks, China’s grid connected wind energy installations will exceed 60GW.

That trumps the US by a full 8GW if the latest figures from AWEA are anything to go by and it forces the EU to take a look over its shoulder too, despite its recent much celebrated 100GW European milestone.

Put simply, for what many consider to be the largest superpower in the world, it’s no mean feat. And it’s a timely reminder of what, within wind, China has already achieved.

Of course, the lack of opposition to local planning legislation certainly helps. As does the not inconsiderable local cost efficiencies, its manufacturing muscle and China’s wider geographic profile – all areas that point to future market growth.

To what extent the recent appointment of a new head of the Communist Party of China will change this perspective is of course very much up for debate and while many will speculate, the reality is that right now, nobody really knows.

What is apparent however, is that with wind now the third largest energy source within China – after thermal and hydropower – the growth of renewable energy within Asia has become increasingly difficult to ignore.

And for the global market that’s significant – not just from an international expansion perspective, but moreover in terms of future industry technological innovation and growth.

Indeed, only last year did Zheng Fangneng, the Energy Section Chief within the Ministry of Science and technology, announced that between now and 2016, the country will support the development of bigger capacity turbines, key components and supporting industrialisation technologies.

To date, this hasn’t translated into any significant developments within the offshore market. And whether this means that China will finally be getting to grips with the global challenge of energy storage is very much up for debate.

Nevertheless, with talk at China Wind Power 2012 late last week focused on tackling the intermittency challenge, surely further progress in both these areas of the market is not so very far off.

Sinovel may well be placing a percentage of its workforce on leave but to suggest that this draws immediate parallels between other major wind energy markets is still wide of the mark.

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