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2016-12-01 14:33:51

China’s wind power is set to more than double by 2020, according to the country’s latest energy road map.

On Tuesday, the National Energy Administration (NEA) released plans for the development of wind power from 2016 to 2020. The document said the government aims to invest 700 billion yuan ($101 billion) to increase installed capacity by more than 60 percent from 2015. Annual energy output is forecasted to grow by 125 percent, in part through improved efficiency.

The plan’s 2020 goals include grid-connected wind power in excess of 210 million kilowatts, including 5 million kilowatts from offshore wind power and accounting for 6 percent of the country’s total power production. The increase in wind energy is estimated to lower annual coal consumption by 150 million tons, and to lower annual carbon emissions by 380 million tons.

On the same day, the NEA also released its new five-year plan for hydropower. Compared to the past five years, the agency aims to build fewer new hydropower plants, although overall installed capacity will increase by 19 percent. Hydropower and wind power are China’s second- and third-largest sources of energy production, respectively.

Currently, most wind farms are erected in China’s relatively flat northern areas. According to the NEA document, more installations will be built in China’s central, southern, and eastern areas. Meng Xiangan, deputy director of the China Renewable Energy Society, told Sixth Tone that this is a bid to improve the efficiency of the wind power.

Over the first half of 2016, some 21 percent of wind power was wasted according to NEA figures. The situation was especially severe in northern China because facilities there are relatively limited in how much power they are currently able to cope with.

Fewer subsidies and more market influence are potential solutions to the problem of wasted wind power, Meng said. The new five-year plan aims to make energy prices more dependent on market competition and less dependent on subsidies, with the overall goal of lowering costs. According to Meng, the tens of billions of yuan in renewable energy subsidies that the government hands out every year have become an overwhelming burden. “Cutting down is inevitable,” he said.
 
“I often use the example that wind power is like a child who needs help from policy,” Meng said. “But in the end, they have to grow up and face the challenges of society on their own.”

(Header image: A tourist watches wind turbines at a wind farm in Zhangbei County, Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, June 21, 2016. Liu Jiao/IC)