China - Differentiated wind energy tariffs launched

Move is first in Asia since South Korea implemented a feed-in tariff program in 2005

China has instituted a new system of differentiated wind energy tariffs based on four wind energy zones. The move is the first in Asia since South Korea implemented a feed-in tariff program in 2005. The tariffs themselves are less than those in Germany and France and less than those proposed in Ontario. Though the Chinese tariffs are thought to be based on the differences in the wind resource across the vast country, it is impossible to estimate the effectiveness of the tariffs without knowing the specific wind resources of the four wind energy zones.

The planned feed-in remuneration lies between RMB 0.51 and RMB 0.61 per kilowatt hour and depends on the region where a project goes on grid. Nevertheless, the Chinese program may represent an innovative hybrid between the graduated wind energy tariffs in Germany and France and those single-value tariffs in Ontario, Vermont, and California.

The parliament of the Peoples Republic of China passed a Renewable Energy Law on February 28, 2005. The law include provisions for feed-in tariffs. However, as in most countries, the path to implementation is never direct and only now has specific tariffs been proposed in a program that could be called a system of feed-in tariffs.

China is expected to announce feed-in tariffs for solar PV sometime later this year. Suntech chairman Zhengrong Shi as suggesting the tariff for large-scale solar PV plants could be equivalent to $0.22/kWh. Whether these tariffs also include access to state subsidies is unknown. China's emphasis on wind energy is creating a new source of green for many American companies, as the country's wind capacity continues to advance with gale-force strength.

In recent years, China has blown past its own ambitious goals for wind energy development, making it the fourth-largest wind power producer, behind the US, Germany and Spain. Interfax-China reported that the average bidding price of Chinese made wind turbines has fallen by about 15% from July 2008 to July 2009.

Mr Yang Hua vice president of customer service for Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Ltd one of China's largest wind turbine manufacturers said wind turbine prices have been declining over the last few years due to growing competition in the domestic market.

On the other hand, the price drop has made wind power farms more profitable. Mr Yang estimated that the average internal rate of return of wind farms has risen by about 2.5 percentage points over the last year because of lower turbine prices, illustrating that profits in the wind power industry are moving downstream.

Sinovel Wind Co., Ltd is a high-tech company engaged in developing, engineering, manufacturing and marketing of the wind turbine generator system. With the government support, Sinovel Wind has made a series of achievements. Sinovel Wind is the first company which introduced the technology of 1.5 MW wind turbine generator system into China. Fully absorbing the technology and secondary development, Sinovel Wind self-developed 1.5 MW series wind turbine generator systems applied to different wind areas and temperature ranges and had these types of wind turbines certified.

Meanwhile, Sinovel Wind has been managing to develop the localized supply chain of main components. Now the localization rate of our main type 1.5 MW wind turbine generator system has achieved 89.7%. In addition, the full-fledged experiment equipments and quality management system is established. Sinovel Wind is the pioneer which has realized the large-scale, volume-production of wind turbines in China. Now their annual capacity of 1.5 MW wind turbine has reached 1000 units. Sinovel Wind has become the leading company in the manufacture industry of large-scale wind turbine generator in China.

Loaded with the historical mission of localizing large-scale wind turbine generator system, Sinovel Wind strives to develop the 3 MW and 5 MW wind turbine generator systems with their own intellectual property, which are applied to both onshore and offshore wind sites. The 3 MW offshore wind turbine generator system will fulfill the conditions of installation, and the large scale production and supply will be realized in 2009.

In 2007, the country's objective was to have enough wind plants built to generate 5 gigawatts (GW) of energy by 2010. By the end of 2008, it had already achieved 12.2 GW, and revised forecasts say that China could reach 150 GW by 2020.

Wind energy-related products include designs, turbines, nacelles (housings for a turbine's inner workings), gearboxes, bearings and electrical equipment.

Since 2006, American Superconductor, of Devens, Massachusetts, has become a major supplier of both designs and electrical conduction components.

The company uses what it calls the "Gillette" business model, selling Chinese companies the "razor" (the design) with the stipulation that they also buy the "blades" (the electrical parts).

The strategy is largely responsible for the company's $73 million first-quarter profit, an increase of 85 percent over the same period in 2008, according to American Superconductor. The company's major client in this arena is a wind turbine maker called Sinovel, the largest such manufacturer in China.

And with additional design orders from Sinovel and new, similar agreements with four other companies, American Superconductor expects its earnings to grow exponentially in the future. Other US companies also have big plans based on China's continued wind energy push.

General Electric, which opened a new wind turbine assembly plant in Shenyang in 2006, hopes to double its sales to China this year. GE Wind also has a joint venture with China-based A-Power to produce gearboxes in A-Power's Chinese factory in 2010.

Canton, Ohio-based Timken Bearings expects to make $30 million this year selling US-made turbine gearbox bearings to Nanjing High Speed Gear Manufacturing Company. In a joint venture with Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Company, Timken is also building a $38 million bearing plant in Hunan province, which will begin operating next year.

China requires 70 percent of all wind energy components to be built domestically, either by foreign or Chinese companies. Chinese wind energy component buyers favor companies with Chinese owners, especially when the Chinese partner has majority interest.

Historically, European countries have been - and still are - major suppliers of wind energy products to China. While GE is the only US company making turbines in China, three European firms are doing so, and European manufacturers SKF and Schaeffler are the chief suppliers of bearings to China's wind energy industry. When American Superconductor first sought to make inroads into the Chinese market, it took an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach and purchased Austrian wind energy design firm Windtec.

According to several experts, advances being made within China may also limit US chances there. Dozens of Chinese manufacturers, including Goldwind, Sinovel and Dongfang, are supplying most of China's wind turbines, and the country is moving ahead in its bearings and transmissions manufacturing.

American Superconductor spokesperson Jason Fredette said many wind energy products may soon be produced by firms with Chinese names and US backers. However, he is optimistic that US-owned companies won't be left out.

China maintains its leading position on the global wind energy market: in the first half of 2009 the People’s Republic installed 4,440 MW of new capacity, an increase of around 120%.

China's installed wind power capacity that transmits power into the national electricity grid rose 11.81 million kW in the first half of this year, doubling the figure of a year earlier, an industry expert told Xinhua over the weekend.

Shu Yinbiao, vice general manager of the State Grid Corporation, said the installed wind power capacity soared 101 percent year on year by the end of June, showing the country's strengthened efforts on using renewable energy.

Shu suggested mapping out a long-term wind power development plan for the whole country and formulating relevant national technical standards for new energy including wind and solar power to regulate their development.

China's wind power sector gained momentum in recent years due to the government's supportive policies. Figures showed that the country's installed wind power capacity reached 12 million kW by the end of 2008, ranking the fourth globally trailing the United States, Germany and Spain.

China's renewable energy installed capacity is predicted to reach 290 million kilowatts by 2020, accounting for 17% of the total, China State Grid Corporation announced at the Renewable Energy Development Conference on July 30, 2009.

Moreover, the company estimated that the nation would have a nuclear power installed capacity of 86 million kilowatts, a wind power installed capacity of 150 million kilowatts, a solar energy installed capacity of 20 million kilowatts, and a biomass power installed capacity of 30 million kilowatts then.

In the nation's previous renewable energy development planning, the total solar energy generation capacity was scheduled to reach 300,000 kilowatts by 2010 and 1.87 million kilowatts by 2020; and the total wind energy installed capacity 5 million kilowatts by 2010, and 30 million kilowatts by 2020.

As of the end of 2008, the nation's renewable energy generation installed capacity had got to 21 million kilowatts, making up 3% of the total, Shu Yinbiao, general manager of China State Grid said.

The total investment will be more than CNY 3 trillion at least, an official close to the nation's Energy Bureau revealed.

For grid-connected land-based wind power, feed-in tariff rates are 0.51, 0.54, 0.58 and 0.61 yuan per KW/hour depending on availability of wind energy resources and engineering costs.

China is planning to build seven wind power complexes each with capacities of 10-gigawatts (GW) or more. The seven wind complexes have a planned total capacity of 126 GW and will be located in six provinces, including Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Jilin, Hebei and Jiangsu, according to SHI Pengfei, Director of Wind Energy Specialty Commission of China Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA).

Li Jianhua, Communist Party Chief of Jiuquan city, Gansu Province said that the city plans to pour some RMB500 billion into wind energy and equipment manufacturing. By 2010, the city is expected to have 5 million KW of wind power installed capacity and 10 million KW by 2015.

China will begin construction of a 120-billion yuan ($17.6 billion) wind power project in about two weeks in Gansu province as part of a major push to boost renewable energy and cut the nation's reliance on coal, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The project, also called "the Three Gorges Dam on the land" could be China's biggest wind power station, with an installed capacity of 20 GigaWatts (GW) by 2020, the report said, citing Wu Shengxue, deputy head of the Jiuquan Municipal Development and Reform Commission.

The wind project will be constructed in Jiuquan city, which has wind resources that could support wind farms with installed capacity of 40 GW.

Beijing is poised to raise its wind power capacity to 100 GW by 2020, or eight times the current level, as part of a stimulus package aimed at boosting renewable energy.

The threat of climate change is driving China -- a top greenhouse gas polluter -- to boost the use of renewable energy and restrain greenhouse gas emissions by power plants.

China, US could sign climate deal

The US and China are likely to sign an agreement to combat climate change during President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing in November, Washington senator Maria Cantwell said on Friday.

This, and US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman's remark that he was impressed by Beijing's green efforts prompted Chinese analysts to say that the Obama administration wanted to cooperate with China in fighting climate change.

Tokyo, on the other hand, put pressure on Beijing, with the Democratic Party of Japan, voted to power on Sunday, saying its ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - 25 percent by 2020 from the 1990 levels - was based on the premise that a post-Kyoto Protocol deal will include China and India.

That means Japan wants binding GHG reduction targets imposed on China in the global climate agreement that would succeed the protocol, which expires in 2012.

Senator Cantwell, in Beijing to discuss clean energy and intellectual property rights with Chinese officials, said a deal between the world's two biggest GHG emitters would help build global confidence in fighting global warming.

Within a month of Obama's visit to China, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen for the UN climate change conference to thrash out the details of a post-Kyoto deal.

The US and China are already cooperating in the development of new technologies such as carbon capture and "smart" power grid systems, Cantwell told a press briefing.

And they could reach a wider deal during Obama's visit, to include pledges to cut tariffs on clean-energy related goods and services, and technology transfers, she said.

The Foreign Ministry did not confirm what Cantwell said. Huntsman told reporters at a press conference in Beijing: "I took a plane last week to Chengdu, Sichuan, and I looked down on the flight outside Beijing and saw roads and roads of new renewable energy, wind energy, that was being developed."

"China is taking it very seriously. You're investing significant amounts of money in your tomorrow," he said. Shi Jingli, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission's Energy Research Institute, said China's wind energy had doubled every year in the past three years, while renewable energy accounted for 8.6 percent of its energy consumption in 2008.

John Miligan-Whyte, chairman of the Center for America-China Partnership, said Huntsman's comments reflected his positive attitude toward China. Huntsman has distinguished himself from the others because of his different mindset toward Beijing.

Yuan Peng, head of the Institute of US Studies under the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said Huntsman's remarks showed that the US was more eager to cooperate with China to fight global warming and did not want to dwell on their differences.

Washington is trying to persuade Beijing to accept a set of binding targets for GHG emission cuts. Though China has not committed to any, it has made huge efforts to cut emissions.

Zou Ji, professor of the Renmin University of China, said nearly two-thirds of the key technologies that China needs to mitigate global warming have to be imported from developed economies.

"We found that we need to transfer 43 of them from the key technology list of the developed economies such as the US, Japan and the EU," Zou said at the launch of a UN report on development and climate change.

For more information please contact Trevor Sievert at ts@windfair.net
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Posted by: Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, renewable energy, jobs, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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