Wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China.
by Earth Policy Institute
In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more electricity than nuclear power plants did, a gap that will likely widen dramatically over the next few years as wind surges ahead. Since 2007, nuclear power generation has risen by 10 percent annually, compared with wind’s explosive growth of 80 percent per year.
Over the course of 2011 and 2012, China connected four reactors with a combined 2,600 megawatts of nuclear generating capacity, bringing its total nuclear installations to 12,800 megawatts. Although officials still claim that China will reach 40,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity in 2015, the current pace of construction makes this appear increasingly unlikely. China’s inexperience with Generation-III reactors also casts doubt on its prospects for achieving what the government now sees as a more reasonable 2020 goal, some 70,000 megawatts.
China should easily meet its official target of 100,000 megawatts of grid-connected wind capacity by 2015. Looking further ahead, the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) sees wind installations soaring to at least 200,000 megawatts by 2020. With the seven massive “Wind Base” mega-complexes now under construction in six provinces—slated to total at least 138,000 megawatts when complete in 2020—the CREIA projection seems well within reach.
China’s overall wind energy resource is staggering. Harvard researchers estimate that China’s wind generation potential is 12 times larger than its 2010 electricity consumption.
Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Earth Policy Institute. Author credit goes to J. Matthew Roney.