Mongolia has set a target to get 20 per cent to 25 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020, up from less than 2 per cent currently.
Coal supplies about 80 per cent of the nation’s energy.
“In order to meet the 20 per cent goal, the government really has to support these kinds of enterprises,” said Enkh-Amgalan, adding that he expects the government will subsidise the costs of wind power in order to make it affordable.
Smog from burning coal has choked the capital in recent months, causing the World Health Organization to name Ulaanbaatar the second-worst city for air quality behind Ahvaz in western Iran. Residents use coal to heat homes when winter temperatures plunge to minus 30 Fahrenheit.
Clean Energy says the wind farm will save 122,000 tons of coal, 1.6 million tons of water and will eliminate 180,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
“We expect that by the end of next year tariff prices will be liberalised,” said Enkh-Amgalan, a graduate of California’s Monterrey Institute of International Studies. “We’re not sure how it will be, but there is a certain commitment from the government that the tariffs will increase. This process is happening but slowly.”
Wind turbines at the plant will last about 20 years, said Enkh-Amgalan, after which time the current 1.6-megawatt turbines may need to be replaced. By then, he expects turbines may generate as much as 7 megawatts each, which would triple the output.
Mining companies and towns in the region could draw power from the facilities, or the energy could be exported on an “Asia Super Grid” developers are sketching as a way to share power from Japan to India, he said.
Wind speeds in Salkhit average 8.2 metres per second, while Gobi Desert speeds exceed 9 metres per second. The Gobi has the potential to yield 11 gigawatts per year of solar energy and 300,000 megawatts of wind power, Enkh-Amgalan said.