Wind Power Curtailment in China on the Mend


China’s wind power industry is expected to rally in 2018. Since July 2017, wind power projects in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, which, in the aggregate, are scheduled to deliver an installed capacity of about 2.9 GW, have received governmental approval for construction, signaling a substantial loosening of restrictions on the construction of new plants.

Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Ningxia plan to increase construction

. The curtailment rates of wind power systems in Gansu and Xinjiang are already on track to come in at a much more modest 15 percent in 2018 when compared to the last few years, with the expectation that the facilities will actually operate at full capacity by 2020.

Practical Policies to Resolve the Curtailment Issue

Since 2016, the National Energy Administration has put in place a handful of policies to address the issue of grid parity for and curtailment of wind power systems. In the middle of 2017, subsidies were paid to demonstration wind power projects in Hebei, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang. In the areas where the curtailment rates are particularly high, operators are required to take various technological measures to reduce the rate. In November 2017, the Administration issued Measures for Solving the Curtailment of Hydro, Wind and Solar Power Facilities, which requires Gansu and Xinjiang to reduce their curtailment rates to around 30 percent, and Jilin, Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia to around 20 percent.

Curtailment Rates Drop

The average utilization hours of wind power equipment significantly increased in the above-mentioned six provinces and autonomous regions. In the first half of 2017, China recorded average utilization of 984 hours, an increase of 67 hours from a year earlier, while the rate for the first three quarters of the year stood at 1,386 hours, up 135 hours year-on-year.

In the first half of 2017, the average curtailment rate across China stood at 15.8 percent, falling 4.8 percentage points from a year earlier; while the rate for the first three quarters stood at 13.9 percent, down 5 percentage points. The rate in Gansu province declined from 43 percent in 2016 to 33 percent in 2017, while in Xinjiang, it declined from 38 percent to 29 percent. The curtailment rates in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia have declined to far below the 20 percent mark.

Looking ahead into 2018, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Ningxia are expected to completely eliminate curtailments, while Inner Mongolia is expected to reduce it to below 5 percent.

Newly Installed Capacity Increases

During the first half of 2017, the newly installed wind power capacity across China totaled 9.7 GW, with Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Ningxia, Xinjiang and Gansu contributing 800 MW, a decrease of 670 MW year-on-year. The remaining provinces, cities and autonomous regions contributed 8.9 GW of newly installed capacity, increasing 640 MW. For the full year of 2017, newly installed capacity across China is expected to reach approximately 19.3 GW, 4 GW less than a year earlier.

Outlook for Newly Installed Capacity in China

As of the end of 2016, China was home to 84 GW of wind power plants that have been approved but had not yet started, 32.4 GW of which were approved in 2016. On July 28, 2017, the National Energy Administration announced plans to approve 30.7 GW of new facilities, all of which are expected to commence delivering to the grid by 2020. China’s total installed wind power capacity is expected to reach 291 GW by 2020.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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