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China commits to offshore renewable energy
By Zhang Yu'an (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-24 08:09

China commits to offshore renewable energy

China is planning to construct a number of 10 GW wind power bases in the coming years, in a bid to further boost the development of the country's renewable energy industry, the country's top energy official said recently.

Zhang Guobao, administrator of the National Energy Administration, said: "We have worked out the strategy of building large (wind power) bases and integrating them into the mainstream power grid in order to speed up the pace of wind power development in the country".

Vigorously developing renewable energy, including wind power, forms part of the country's ongoing strategy to contribute to the global campaign for combating climate change.

Currently, the world's installed capacity of wind power has reached 120 GW, and wind power has become an essential part of the world's energy structure, said Zhang, who is also a minister-level vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Although a developing country, China places special emphasis on increasing its use of renewable energy such as wind power. By the end of 2008, the country's installed capacity of wind power had hit over 10 GW. The Chinese government also released the Renewable Energy Law in 2005 to provide strong legal support to the development of renewable energy in the country.

As part of the estimation in Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy in China, issued by National Development and Reform Commission in September 2007, the total exploitable potential wind power resources in the country could reach over 1,000 GW, of which onshore wind power resources would provide about 300 GW with offshore wind power resources around 700GW.

To better use wind power resources, Zhang has called for strong efforts to be made to develop offshore wind power resources as offshore wind energy offers higher wind speeds, no occupancy of land resources and smaller impact on the environment.

To date, the EU has already made great efforts to develop offshore wind power and considers it the main priority in the wind energy area.

"China has very long coastlines and vast oceanic areas, providing very good conditions for offshore wind power development", he noted.

The economically well-developed eastern areas of the country suffer from a shortage of fossil fuels, but enjoy sufficient offshore wind power resources. "It is particularly important to develop offshore wind resources to power the economic growth in these areas," he added.

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Shi Lishan, deputy director general of the New and Renewable Energy Department of the National Energy Administration, as well as program director of China Renewable Energy Scale-up Program, said that compared with onshore wind power, offshore wind power generation entails more complicated working conditions, tougher technical requirements and greater difficulties in installation.

All these bring new challenges to turbine manufacturing, project construction, operation and management.

In addition, more attention must be paid to offshore wind power project planning in order to maintain a harmonious relationship with other sectors such as harbors, navigation channels and offshore breeding facilities, and to ensure protection of the environment.

Shi therefore considers it important to draft regulations on offshore wind farm location and environmental impact.

The construction of the Shanghai East Sea Bridge Wind Power Plant has marked a good start for development of the country's offshore wind power generation.

The first set of 34 wind power turbines for the country's first offshore wind power farm began the construction in March this year. The 2.3 billion yuan ($336.56 million) project is expected to generate 267 GWh of electricity annually, and will supply clean power to the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

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