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China adds 19.3GW of wind in 2016

Domestic giants are vying with foreign players for a slice of the growing market despite signs that a significant share of the output is not being used.

China’s cumulative wind generation capacity reached 149GW in 2016, accounting for about 9 percent of the total installed capacity, according to the country’s National Energy Administration.

The energy regulator said the wind sector maintained a “healthy growth” last year, adding 19.3GW of new installed capacity. 

Yunnan was the most active among Chinese provinces and regions with 3.25GW of new wind energy capacity installed, followed by Hebei and Jiangsu, with 1.66GW and 1.49GW respectively. Inner Mongolia and Ningxia ranked fourth and fifth. 

The country’s total wind assets generated 241TWh of electricity, supplying about 4 percent of the total electricity produced last year in the country. 

However, the regulator also announced that a record-high 49.7TWh of output was curtailed over the period. Coming first on that front was the Gansu province, which unused around 43 percent of its wind power production – corresponding to 10.4TWh of idled electricity. Xinjiang and Jilin followed, with curtailment rates of 38 percent and 30 percent respectively. 

Under its latest Five-Year Plan on Energy, China aims to have 770MW in clean energy capacity in four years’ time, representing a 39 percent share of its power generation mix. The country looks to grow its wind market to 210GW by 2020, with offshore wind farms expected to account for 5GW. 

Foreign investors, including Apple and EDF Group, last year made forays into the Chinese wind market. In December, the US technology giant teamed up with Xinjiang Goldwind, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, to cooperate on wind projects in China. Earlier in July, EDF’s renewable energy arm had acquired a majority stake in a local clean energy developer in China.   

Domestic players were also active: fund manager CGN Private Equity invested in 300MW of wind in China last April while raising its latest renewable energy fund, CGN Infrastructure Fund III. The vehicle, which has a 5 billion yuan ($727 million; €674 million) target, recently secured a commitment of 100 million yuan from the investment arm of China Three Gorges, the country’s largest hydro operator.