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Solar, wind have huge growth potential, expert says

By LI HONGYANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-08-25 09:06
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Employees of Sichuan Energy Investment Co Ltd carry out maintenance work on a turbine at a wind farm in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province, in March. [Photo by He Haiyang/for China Daily]

Solar and wind power have a huge potential for further development in China, a climate expert has said, adding that if the 95 trillion kilowatt-hours of such energy is fully tapped, it will be six times the electricity demand across the country by 2060.

Wang Yang, a senior engineer from the National Climate Center, made the remarks on Wednesday after a monthlong heat wave caused power crunches in Sichuan province and Chongqing.

Developing wind and solar energy can not only assist emergency power supplies under such extreme weather conditions, but also help reduce carbon emissions.

"Restricted by geological conditions, the room for more hydropower plants is limited. However, there is no such concern for the development of wind and solar power," Wang said.

A guideline released last year by the central government said the country would prioritize clean energy, with total installed capacity of wind and solar power generation expected to reach more than 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030, up from 680 million kilowatts currently, National Energy Administration data showed.

The climate center has started predicting climate conditions for wind and solar energy resources, which provide references for government decisions and offer suggestions to companies on where to build and how to operate a clean energy power plant.

Temperatures, precipitation and wind speed vary under different climate conditions, affecting the amount of power generated, he said.

"In the process of switching to low-carbon energy, it is more necessary to predict the weather and climate that clean energy operation relies heavily on," he said.

Wang and his team members use data from historical records as well as from metrological stations and weather satellites to simulate climate conditions and predict solar and wind power resources.

"We aim to find optimal places for solar and wind power plants," he said.

Last year, solar resources in China's western region were generally higher than in the central and eastern regions, according to the China Wind and Solar Energy Resources Bulletin, released by the China Meteorological Administration in May.

Last year, for areas with 70-meter-high wind turbines-the most common height for wind turbines in China-the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan and Heilongjiang provinces generated more power through wind compared with the 2011-20 average.

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