China now has enough wind farms to produce more energy renewably than all that is made by America’s nuclear plants as the growing nation expands its power generation to fuel its new mega-cities.
It is worth noting that capacity does not directly equal output. Instead, it represents the maximum amount of energy that could be produced under perfect conditions. Clearly, with a source as variable as the wind, the actual output of China’s turbines will be lower than 115,000 megawatts but the statistics are still indicative of the differences in power generation between the nations.
The west has traditionally shown reluctance to turn to renewable energy generation in a big way, preferring to build more coal and nuclear-powered plants. Wind turbines in the UK contribute only a minor amount of power to the National Grid, representing 10% of total supply in February 2015.
Although the US, UK and many other countries in Europe have several sites suitable for the construction of wind farms, plans are often rejected for large-scale operations due to opposition from nearby landowners and protesters who note how little energy one turbine alone produces.
With many located around designated areas of natural beauty, finding appropriate placements can be hard. It is because of this that the majority of the UK’s wind turbines are situated off-shore, in the sea.
China has plans to expand the wind’s role in its energy generation even further. By 2020, the rising superpower wants to be producing 200,000 megawatts of electricity with wind farms.
China is also developing other forms of power generation though. Over a third of all nuclear plants under construction are located in China and the contribution of nuclear power will also triple by 2020.
The nation is also notorious for its usage of polluting aging coal-fired power stations as it endeavours to fuel its huge population. For the foreseeable future, wind power looks to remain the dominant player in China’s energy generation program however.