Vast northeast China to benefit from wind power

In the remote county of Tongyu in northeast China’s Jilin Province, 14-year-old Li Ruixue has more memories about sandstorms rather than colorful flowers and clean rivers, due to the howling winds that sweep the area from spring to winter every year.

Sand-filled winds from Horqin often leaves local farmers’ land barren and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has described the county as being one of the areas of the world most unfit for human living.

But the Chinese government’s new strategy to find more renewable energy might provide one of the country’s poorest counties with the opportunity to improve its way of life. The reason for hope is a wind farm with a combined installed capacity of 1.9 million Kilowatt that will soon be completed in the county.

More hopeful still, scientists have estimated that the county has a potential wind energy of 8 million KW within the 1,600 square kilometers of the wind-rich region for installing giant wind turbines.

For a larger picture, the wind power potential of 30 million KW, which matches the electricity generating capacity of the Three Gorges Power Plant, is believed available in the northeast region of the country including Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning Provinces and part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

"The northeast region has had the fastest growing wind-driven power stations in the country," said Wei Zhaofeng, general manager of the Northeast Grid. The installed capacity in the region had increased from 240,000 KW to 7.54 million KW by the end of 2009.

"By 2015, the capacity in the region will climb to 30 million KW, which will exceed that of the Three Gorges," Wei said. The installed capacity of Three Gorges Power Plant is currently about 18 million KW and will be 22.5 million KW after an expansion project is finished within the next year.

In response to a sometimes limited power supply, the Chinese government has raised its investment in exploring renewable energy resources and issued a series of regulations and policies to encourage green energy use, targeting the expansion of wind, nuclear and solar power.

Currently, China relies on coal to supply 70 percent of its energy needs.

It is estimated that this ratio will be reduced by half in 2050 when wind energy, nuclear and other renewable energies become the main suppliers.

By the end of 2009, the total installed capacity of China’s wind power stations had reached 25.1 million KW, accounting for 15.9 percent of the world’s total.

"Since the first wind-driven power station was completed at the end of the last century, the county government has signed many agreements with outside investors," Sun Hongjun, deputy Party chief of Tongyu county, told Xinhua.

"Now more than half of the county government’s revenue comes from wind power stations."

"Our lives are getting better since we have those giant windmills," the 14-year-old girl Li Ruixue said. "My mom and dad both work for the plants."

"My dad told me that if we have more windmills we will have less sandstorms and could plant more trees, so we needn’t worry about moving out."

Source: Xinhua,