China’s wind energy grew more than coal

China’s wind power production grew more than coal power production for the first time ever in 2012, according to statistics from the China Energy Council. Thermal power using mostly coal increased by only about 0.3% in China last year, the statistics noted, an addition of roughly 12 terawatt hours (TWh) more electricity.

“In contrast, wind power production expanded by about 26 TWh,” according to a blog posted on the Energy Collective written recently about the statistics by Li Shuo, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia. “This rapid expansion brings the total amount of wind power production in China to 100 TWh, surpassing China’s 98 TWh of nuclear power.”

The Global Wind Energy Council says that China had 75,564 MW of installed wind power capacity by the end of 2012. “Coal still accounts for 79% of electricity production in China, but fortunately that dominance is increasingly challenged by competition from cleaner energy, as well as government policies and public concerns about air pollution,” the Energy Collective posting said.

“The Chinese government’s 12th five year energy plan (2011-2015) aims for coal to be reduced from 70 to 65%of energy production by 2015. In contrast, the Chinese government has ambitious targets for wind, solar, and hydro, and plans to increase the share of non-fossil fuels to 30%of installed electricity generating capacity by the end of 2015.”

The posting followed a 15 March Bloomberg News story that said Chinese environmental protection officials had pledged to step up efforts to curb emissions as rising levels of pollution mostly from coal spurs social unrest in the world’s second-biggest economy. “We need to continuously speed up implementation of plans to prevent air pollution,” Wu Xiaoqing, vice environmental protection minister, was quoted as saying in the story. “We hope to ease worsening air pollution in a short period.”

A report by the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) showed that while nuclear power generation in China has risen by 10% annually since 2007, wind power during the same period experienced “explosive growth” of 80% per year. “China’s overall wind energy resource is staggering,” the report said. “Harvard researchers estimate that China’s wind generation potential is 12 times larger than its 2010 electricity consumption.”