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China approves wind projects worth 16.8GW

Chinese government gives go-ahead to 16.76GW worth of low wind power projects

Chinese government plans for new turbines in low wind areas

China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has released the latest batch of wind power projects according to developers, China Windpower.

A leaked document shows the Chinese government is encouraging development in low-wind regions, away from the areas with the best wind resources in the northwest, Recharge reported on Monday. The report was released at the end of March.

The largest number – totalling more than 1GW in each case – are in Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei and Liaoning provinces, located to the immediate north and south of Beijing, and Yunnan in southern China.

The southern provinces of Guangdong and Guizhou, as well as central and east coast provinces like Henan, Hunan and Jiangsu, were awarded more than 600MW of projects each.

The new batch does not include any projects in the most wind-rich areas –namely Heilongjiang, Jilin, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Ningxia provinces. These will be addressed separately, according to the document.

The new approvals are the second batch to get the go-ahead from the NEA following last year’s change to China’s wind farm approval policy.

The first batch, issued in August last year, included 26.8GW of projects. The industry had been expecting around 15-18GW in this second round.

All project approvals are now under the control of the central government after power outages in the country’s large wind-bases raised concerns that closer oversight was needed of the rapidly-developing industry.

Beijing is also paying greater attention to the high level of curtailment of wind power in heavily-developed provinces such as Inner Mongolia.

According to Huadian New Energy, power loss from grid curtailment exceeded 1.5 billion kWh last year – or 12% of total wind power output – up from 296 million kWh in 2008.

Curtailment has become worse as the speed of wind farm construction has far outpaced the building of new grid lines. Also, many wind bases in the west are far from the country’s major load centres and the power cannot be used locally.

The NEA has made it clear that new projects in areas where more than 20% of wind farm output is lost will not get approval, according to a report by Chinese financial newspaper China Securities Journal.

The new approvals include 837MW of distributed wind projects, a segment that the government is trying to promote under a new policy issued last year.

Distributed development is seen as a way of increasing wind capacity before a more sophisticated grid is in place.

Hong Kong-listed China Windpower says it won 650MW of projects under the new approvals, almost twice the amount it secured last year, making it the sixth-largest beneficiary in this round.

Another batch of approvals is expected to be released in November.