China Dips Toe A Bit Further Into Offshore Wind

China is so big and so willing to direct vast resources so aggressively into a clean-energy sector, it can go from nowhere to a leadership position in no time. It happened in solar cell production and it happened with land-based wind power. And now we might be seeing the first signs of it in offshore wind.

Xinhua, the official news agency, reported that Longyuan Power, China’ s largest wind power developer, added 99.3 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity at an intertidal wind farm in Rudong county in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Xinua described the project as a “pilot,” but with 32 MW already in place, the site now totals 131.4 MW. It is now China’s largest offshore wind plant, and will grow to 150 MW by the time it is completed in March.

china offshore wind

image via Xinhua

China surged to the top in overall wind power capacity in 2010, when it installed 18.9 gigawatts (GW) to push its total to 44.7 GW. And as we reported last October, the country is now setting its sights on hitting 200 GW 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.

That roadmap suggested development for the remainder of this decade would primarily be onshore, where it’s less expensive, with offshore development not really taking off until after 2020. Xinhua echoed that strategy in its Rudong story. Zhang Gang, general manager of Longyuan Jiangsu Offshore Wind Power, was quoted saying, “We need to make greater breakthroughs in cost control and turbine quality, if we are to develop offshore wind power at a large scale.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.