Shanghai - China is expected to become one of the leaders in the wind energy market and play an increasing role in combating climate change, weather experts and officials said Thursday.
"China and the United States will become the two major wind energy markets in the world," Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), said at a press briefing where the 2007 China Wind Power Report was released.
Mid-size players and market entrants have more opportunities in the industry, which used to be dominated by European countries, he added.
China ranked fifth in terms of annual installed wind energy capacity last year, after the US, Germany, India and Spain.
But the latest official figures show that installed capacity is expected to reach 5 GW by the end of 2007 - three years ahead of the government-set 2010 target - propelling the country to the second place this year.
According to the report, installed capacity could reach 50 GW by 2020, accounting for about 4 percent of total power generation.
The country has around 700-1,200 GW of potential wind power to be tapped, it said.
The rapid development of wind energy will reduce the heavy dependence on coal, prevent air pollution and mitigate climate change, said Yang Ailun, climate and energy campaign manager of Greenpeace China.
"China's wind energy market is becoming increasingly mature, but needs more government assistance," said Li Junfeng, secretary-general of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA).
If the government gives full policy support, the capacity could reach 120 GW by 2020, which is equivalent to the generation capacity of five Three Gorges Dam projects, said the report.
The report urged the government to boost the development of the wind power equipment manufacturing industry and promote the economic development of relatively poor areas with the renewable energy.
It also called for the launch of a nationwide regulatory system and a pricing system for renewable energy.
Wind energy generation globally has witnessed strong growth of 28 percent annually since 2000, said the report.
Wind power accounts for 5.7 percent of global power generation, but in China it is less than 1 percent.
The country has set the goal of increasing the ratio of renewable energy, including wind power, to 10 percent by 2010 compared to 8 percent in 2005.