From COP21 to wind power in China: goal or rhetoric?

From COP21 to wind power in China: goal or rhetoric?

Lifan Li
Lifan Li | Associate research professor, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
Energy generated by wind power is gaining more and more ground in Beijing's energy mix. The city wishes to meet the goals set by the Paris agreement; however, critical issues remain as regards both reducing the wind power production cost and the lack of interconnection to the power grid

In September 2016, China’s President Xi Jinping formally submitted the ratification of the Paris agreement to the Secretary-General of the United Nations at G20 Hangzhou Summit, committed to strive the achievement of the peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030. Wind power as a renewable energy has a great significance of promoting China's low-carbon cycle of development, but also China's implementation of the "Paris Agreement" to complete the greenhouse gas emissions as an important way. By the end of 2015, The installed capacity of China's wind power was 129 million kilowatts,  to the present in 2016 , the installed capacity of wind power has reached 140 million kilowatts, is expected reach 150 million kilowatts by the end of 2016. Wind power as a whole has been transformed from subsided energy sources to alternative energy sources. In 2015, the installed capacity of world's renewable energy had created a record, including wind energy had reached 66GW, most of which comes from China, as relatively referred with the implementation of the Paris Agreement, Till now the traditional energy such as electricity and hydropower was replaced by wind energy as the largest renewable energy source. In this regard, China plans to utilize non-water energy as the proportion of total power generation to reach 9% in whole renewable energy, of which wind power will reach 6% -7%.

The advantages of wind power in China's energy development

First, the cost reduction consequently. The cost of wind energy is declining, there are many regions around the world, the cost with Wind energy was about $ 52 to $ 80 per megawatt, and there are some contracts with lower prices. Clearly, the evolution of science and technology causes the cost to drop down, which advantageous to the Chinese industrialization. Today, the world's renewable energy, which only provides less than 1/4 of electricity production, and by 2050, the world needs 60% of the electricity from renewable energy as predictable goal, as so far. Second, continuous innovation: technology and storage. Technology continues to improve, including Chinese turbines can operate at low wind speeds, including more energy storage, including innovative storage methods. It is important on the demand side. We need to have more system value into them, rather than narrow focus only on technology costs. Third, Promoting the new energy policy : Radical or Conservative . Then from 2005 to 2015, China accounted for 35% of the world's wind energy, while Europe accounted for only 30%, you can predict: by 2021, China will occupy 40% of global capacity to achieve the implementation of "Paris Agreement". Till the 2050, wind power demand accounted for 25% of China's total power generation, in accordance with the conservative Chinese style, This adjustment seems too much radical of China’s policy.

By the end of 2015, the installed capacity of China's wind power was 129 million kilowatts; to the present in 2016, the same kind of power has reached 140 million kilowatts and is expected to reach 150 million kilowatts by the end of 2016

The difficult integration with the power grid

First, although the rapid growth of installed capacity of China's wind power, but in wind power utilization which has just started. By the end of 2015, wind power accounted for the proportion of total power generation just over 3%, this result was not easy to be achieved , but also shown that the wind power industry has long way to go. Second, the Test of the new energy power and energy Internet. Which means, actively promote a higher proportion of the demonstration area utilizing the new energy power, Micro-Grid and local power grid construction. Through the promotion of wind power, solar energy, biomass energy integration of various forms of application, making clean energy in some areas can achieve a higher proportion. Third, how to choose the best new energy, that is, the conversion of various alternative effects on energy. In addiction with non-fossil energy to replace fossil energy, the new energy itself also has a strong substitution effect: the options of wind power, photovoltaic power generation and solar thermal power generation rely on the fast-declining cost in energy transformation, which will play a more important role, can occupy more of market share in the industry development.
Fourth, how to reduce governmental subsidies for new energy sources in China. Wind power costs will fall 20% -25%, period is only five years. Up to now, China's renewable energy subsidies from the additional cost of sales of renewable energy shared by the whole society, coal actually does not bear any economic costs, but in the long run with China signed on climate change’s "Paris Agreement "and the establishment of domestic carbon trading, this situation will be difficult to sustain long-term, fossil fuel combustion in addition to bear pollutant emissions, also the commitment to economic responsibility of carbon emissions will be an inevitable trend.

A future also for offshore wind power

First, never urged offshore wind power. Creating a good market conditions of the offshore wind power, but to be noted, China will not urge the development of offshore wind power industry, hopefully  that the whole industry can take its development actively and steadily. By 2020 , have to  ensure the integration of offshore wind power and grid into 5 million kilowatts. Second, promoting cost reduction. Including the whole machine manufacturing, in the lessons learned on the basis of the progressive promotion of the whole industry chain to reduce the cost, not remaining offshore wind power enterprises with left a lot of hidden risks . At the same time in the implementation of cost reduction and other supply side of the reform process, pricing down of onshore wind power, the wind power industry faces a lot of pressure, which needs to promote the optimization of wind power industry layout, with a further promotion of technological innovation and cost reduction. Third, enhancing per capita ratio of the national power structure. Although China's wind power installed capacity has been ranked firstly in the world, the proportion of the country's power structure is still relatively low, per capita share of renewable energy installed capacity is not the first compared with the developed countries, but the ranking was totally bad, In 2015 China's wind power was only 3.3% of the total electricity, and the whole of Europe has more than 11%, Germany reached 13%, Denmark was more than 40%,There has  big difference compared to China's wind power development from Europe and other wind power. Fourth, how to improve quality of wind energy. Chinese scientists have shown that the difference wind power quality is indeed a part of the reason for the US-China wind powers. Other causes of defects in China's wind power sector include poor quality of fans, grid interconnection, and favorite using coal when failing deliver the wind power to customers from grid operators. Fifth, Correcting option of wind energy policy. "Abandoning the wind" is one of the biggest challenges. This behavior occurs when the grid operator does not receive the wind power. It could saying, from the lack of power grid connectivity to the more predictable and more reliable coal-fired power generation. The policy of stimulating wind power construction is working, but the policy of absorbing the wind power was really falls behind of grid. All in all, the Paris agreement is not empty talk, but is focuses on practice and implementation.