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China’s wind power growth slows down in first half

Global wind power rose by 7 percent within six months and by 16.4 percent on a yearly basis, with China, the United States, Germany, Spain and India leading growth.

China remains the largest wind energy market, having added 5.4 gigawatts in the first half of 2012. However, the Worldwatch Institute notes that the country significantly added less wind power compared with its 8 GW in 2011 for the same period.

“Without doubt China will continue in the foreseeable future its number one position, but at a lower speed,” according to the half year report of the World Wind Energy Association.

Since 2006, China – which has vast lands, a wide coastline and strong winds – has started taking huge steps to advance wind power. By June this year, China already had a total installed wind energy capacity of about 67.7 GW.

According to the International Energy Agency, China has the potential to reach as much as 1,000 GW of wind energy by the middle of the century, that would cut carbon emissions by 1.5 gigatons per year or roughly equivalent to the combined emissions of Germany, France and Italy for 2009.

China considers wind power a key growth component of its economy. Under its renewable energy targets, China seeks to have 100 GW of on-grid wind power generating capacity by the end of 2015 and to produce 190 billion kilowatt-hours of wind power per year.

Researchers from Harvard University and Tsinghua University have found that the country could match all of its electricity needs with wind power through 2030.

The global wind market continues to grow, but two of the world’s largest wind market, China and the U.S., currently face hurdles, the latter concerning its woes regarding the Production Tax Credit. Their rise and fall could greatly affect other wind power markets.

“The wind industry, without doubt, is currently in a difficult situation,” said Stefan Gsänger, WWEA secretary general.

There are also political uncertainties in some of the key markets, he adds.

“China has reached its maximum speed of installing new wind farms, although the Chinese market still continues to be much bigger than any other country. However, this leads to strong pressure on Chinese manufacturers and will further increase pressure on wind turbine prices worldwide,” he said.

“More countries should now make use of the low cost of wind power and implement the technology as fast as possible,” he added.

To date, the cumulative wind energy capacity in the world has reached 254 GW as of the end of June while 273 GW is expected for the whole year according to World Wind Energy Association. The first half increase represents 10 percent less than that of the previous year, when 18.41 GW were added.

Meanwhile, it is projected that total wind capacity will hit nearly 500 GW over the next four years, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. (C. Dominguez)

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