Wind power in Mongolia

The $100 million wind energy project will be located 70 kilometers southeast of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city, and is set to open in 2012. Mongolia’s electricity demand is expected to double in the next 15 years. Salkhit Wind Farm, powered by General Electric’s 1.6 MW wind turbines, will generate 5% of Mongolia’s electricity.

The entry into Mongolia is a strategic move by General Electric (GE) that recognizes the burgeoning demand for renewable energy in growing regions around the world—including Asia, Africa and Latin America. It highlights GE’s global growth strategy in one of Asia’s fastest growing and richest natural resource countries.

Electricity demand of Mongolia is expected to double in the next 15 years. The GE turbines powering Salkhit Wind Farm will generate nearly 5 percent of Mongolia’s current electricity. GE’s involvement in the Salkhit Wind Farm project includes equipment supply and technical assistance in the installation and commissioning of the wind turbine generators for the generation of wind power. GE was represented at the signing ceremony by Vice Chairman and CEO of GE’s Global Growth & Operations John Rice. He was joined by Bayanjargal Byambasaikhan, CEO of Newcom. “Energy demand in Mongolia is increasing by 8 to 10 percent a year,” said Byambasaikhan. “Salkhit will help support Mongolia’s growing demand and help facilitate further infrastructure development for railway, road and electrical infrastructure.”

In 2005, Mongolia’s parliament approved the National Renewable Energy Program, which aims to increase the country’s renewable energy share to 20 to 25 percent by 2020. Mongolia’s current installed capacity is roughly 800 megawatts (MW). “This is a milestone in the development of GE’s relationship with Mongolia and our teaming with Newcom. We are introducing advanced technology that paves the way for renewable energy projects and underscoring our commitment to grow in one of the most challenging yet fastest-growing emerging regions,” said Rice.

Mongolia is becoming one of the world’s fastest growing economies, registering the highest growth in the world at 17.3 percent by the first half of 2011 year on year, according to the World Bank. Energy demand is expected to double by 2015. Salkhit Wind Farm will supply 168 million kwh of clean power to the national grid each year. It also will cut CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by 185,000 tons and preserve 1.6 million tons of fresh water annually.

The event follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in September 2010, in which GE and Newcom agreed to explore alliances in key areas such as energy, water, mining, aviation, railway, lighting and healthcare. It follows the opening of GE’s representative office in Ulaanbaatar in May this year.

Mongolia is home to some of the world’s largest coal and copper deposits and has vast wind energy potential. Located in northern Asia between China and Russia, Mongolia, about the size of Alaska, has a population of less than 3 million people. While the Mongolian government pushes its vast reserves of natural resources to help meet the demands of countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and other growing Asian countries. It also is keen to explore renewable energy sources and cleaner technology to protect its environmental assets and support its growing population.

The Salkhit Wind Farm will have an initial installed capacity of 50 MW and will feed into Mongolia’s Central Energy System. GE will supply 1.6-MW wind turbines that will have an 82.5 meter rotor and 80 meter hub height for IEC class IIa wind conditions. The advanced technology machine builds on the success and the global experience of GE’s 1.5-MW wind turbine, the industry’s most widely deployed megawatt-class machine with more than 17,000 installed worldwide.

By José Santamarta,