China can expect to generate 25% to nearly 33% of its electricity from wind by 2030, according to a new study in the journal Nature Energy.
With 145 gigawatts of installed wind capacity last year alone, “China is now the world’s wind energy leader by a fairly large margin,” said co-author Valerie Karplus of MIT.
But at least one analyst pointed to the challenges the country still faces as it tries to integrate large volumes of wind-generated power into an overtaxed grid.
“China’s inflexible coal power stations means that it wastes 40% of the clean wind power it generates in some regions,” said E3G CEO Nick Mabey. “Tapping into China’s abundant and affordable wind resources will require radical power system modernization and tackling powerful coal interests.”
The study said China could maximize its wind capacity by reforming power markets, locating wind farms closer to major load centres, and adjusting schedules for coal generation stations.
The study also produced reaction in Europe, the previous world leader in wind generation. “Europe’s leadership in renewables may be consigned to the history books if we don’t implement long-term policies,” said WindEurope spokesperson Oliver Joy. “If we do that, Europe could also get a quarter of its power from wind alone by 2030. It is telling that global investment in renewables reached record levels last year, and yet Europe saw a 21% decline.”