China will miss 2015 offshore wind target
The doldrums in China’s wind power market also extends to the offshore sector, which was supposed to be a new area of energy production growth under the country’s 12th Year Plan, with a capacity target of 5-GW to be built by 2015.
In a first round of concession bidding in 2010, four contracts were handed out to build a total of 1-GW wind power capacity in near offshore and inter-tidal areas. These projects were to be completed within four years but construction hasn't started on any of them so far.
The plan was for a second group of concession projects, totaling up to 2-GW, to be built in Jiangsu, Hebei, Shandong, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. This plan is now on hold, scuppering any chance of China hitting its 2015 offshore wind target and making the 2020 target 30-GW in offshore wind capacity unlikely to be achieved.
“The second round of bidding for offshore concession projects, which had been scheduled to start in the first half of 2012, is likely to be put off due to significant delays in the first concession projects,” Shi Pengfei, vice-president of the China Wind Energy Association told China Daily.
In fact, by the end of last year China's installed offshore wind power capacity amounted to only 258-MW at two “demonstration sites” according to the Global Wind Energy Council. That’s a modest share of the world’s total of 4-GW offshore wind capacity, most of which is in north European waters. It is also a drop in the bucket of China’s nominal wind power total of 62.4-GW (although a significant percentage of this is not grid-connected).
Liu Qi, deputy general manager of Shanghai Electric Wind Power Equipment Co, a wind turbine manufacturer, told China Daily that one cause of the delays in offshore projects was "a lack of co-ordination among different government bodies."
This, however, is probably the least of the problems. According to a wind industry source who spoke to CleanBiz Asia, Chinese industry planners and project developers have simply under-estimated the technical difficulties of building off-shore wind farms.
“The European experience is that it takes a decade or more to go from initial planning to offshore project completion. The pace at which China has been trying to go about offshore wind project development is quite frankly dangerous.”
According to a report in Bloomberg, however, there is likely to be at least some addition to China’s total off-hore wind power generating capacity in the next 18 months or so.
Shanghai Donghai Wind Power Co, which developed the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm, the 102-MW East China Sea Bridge project, is planning to invest about 1.9 billion yuan (USD300 million) in a 100-MW extension.
The second phase of the project will see the deployment of 26 3.6-MW turbines from Shanghai Electric, according to its vice general manager Zhang Kaihua.“We’re waiting for governmental approval and expect to start construction in the first quarter,” he told Bloomberg.