Energy

Why China’s Largest Windfarm Almost Never Generates Any Power

China is only using about 40 percent of a huge 7,000 turbine wind farm in a rural region due to low demand and technical difficulties, according to The New York Times.

After spending $17.5 billion building the Jiuquan Wind Power Base in Gansu, there’s simply not enough demand for the intermittent power the huge facility generates or transmission capacity to move the power. Nationally, Chinese wind turbines are idle 15 percent of the time to avoid damaging the power grid, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“As with the U.S., the windiest parts of China, where these wind developments are being built, are far away from population centers,” Chris Warren, a spokesperson for the pro-free market Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Transmitting that electricity from rural areas to urban centers is a costly undertaking that doesn’t make much economic sense, especially when you have more cost-effective and reliable power plants closer to those densely populated areas.”

China has greatly slowed its construction of new wind turbines to cope with an oversupply of intermittent and unreliable wind power, which is threatening to cause blackouts.The Chinese government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions in early March, according to China’s National Energy Administration statement.

These wind regions previously installed nearly 71 gigawatts of wind turbines, more than the rest of China combined. A single gigawatt of electricity is enough to power 700,000 homes. Government statistics show that 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-power, or about 15 percent of all Chinese wind power, was wasted in 2015 alone.

Wind power only accounts for 3.3 percent of all electricity used in China as a result of these problems.

“These massive and impractical green energy developments place an unnecessary burden on taxpayers and consumers,” Warren said. “My guess is that much of what China is doing is a dog and pony show to demonstrate to the UN that China is somehow leading on green energy. All the while, China continues to use coal power because it’s affordable, reliable, and more practical than wind power.”

Beijing has ordered wind operators to stop expanding four times in the last five years, because unreliable wind power was damaging the country’s power grid and costing the government enormous amounts of money. The best areas for wind turbines in China are far away from the coastal provinces where most of its population lives. Building the infrastructure to transmit wind energy over long distances is enormously expensive and could cost many times the price of generating the electricity.

Wind power damages the power grid because the amount of electricity generated by a wind turbine is very intermittent and doesn’t coincide with the times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids vastly more fragile.

More than one-in-three wind turbines currently installed worldwide are in China. Even with this enormous number of turbines, China still produces less electricity from wind than America, indicating the country is so over-saturated with turbines that it is damaging the power grid, potentially leading to blackouts.

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