Wind Power A 17 Percent Chinese Energy Goal

China’s ever-rising wind-power target just got ratcheted up again. A report [PDF] from the country’s Energy Research Institute released through the International Energy Agency (IEA) has China hitting 200 gigawatts (GW) in installed capacity by 2020, on the way to a whopping 1,000 GW by 2050. That would make up 17 percent of the nation’s electricity production.

Three years ago, China’s wind-power goal for 2020 stood at 30 GW. Then it more than tripled, to 100 GW. And then earlier this year, the Global Wind Energy Council reported that Chinese grid companies – always a bottleneck to development because of wind-power’s variability – had agreed to connect 150 GW by 2020.

China wind power target 2050

image via Shutterstock

After 2020, the pace of growth only increases, according to the new “Technology Roadmap,” as China looks to begin exploiting offshore resources in earnest. Beginning in 2020, the country expects to install 20 GW annually until the end of the decade, reaching a total of 400 GW in 2030. Will this cost money? You bet. “Achieving the potential offered by wind energy will require an estimated $200 billion of investment to 2050 and represents tremendous opportunities for wind developers and investors,” the IEA said.

In 2010, China overtook the United States as the country with the most installed wind energy capacity, adding 18.9 GW and bumping its total capacity up to 44.7 GW.

“By 2050, wind power could be one of the five largest power sources, alongside coal, hydro, solar and nuclear power,” said Wang Zhongying, deputy director-general of the research institute, who presented the report at the China Wind Power conference. “It will play a vital role in China’s energy supply and in our efforts to address climate change.”

More energy from wind will help reduce the growth in the country’s use of coal, but hardly ensures China will be burning less of the greenhouse-gas emitting fuel by 2050, as it struggles to meet electricity demand that is expected to rise from 4,200 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2020 to 13,000 TWh in 2050.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.