China, the world’s biggest wind-power market, issued plans that may indicate it will approve fewer of the projects this year than it did last year.
The National Energy Administration plans to approve 16.76 gigawatts of wind-power projects this year, Shi Lishan, deputy director of the administration’s renewable energy division, said yesterday. That does not include six provinces where extensive capacity has already been built or is planned and where new approvals will be considered separately, Shi said. China approved 26.83 gigawatts of wind farms last year.
Authorities began tightening approval for projects last year after rapid growth of capacity led some wind farms to produce less power than they were capable of, either because the electricity generated exceeded demand or because transmission lines could not safely carry it. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Demi Zhu estimates China will approve 18 gigawatts to 20 gigawatts of new wind projects this year.
“There’s an attempt to slow down to make sure development of wind farms is more carefully planned,” Michael Parker, an analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co in Hong Kong, said yesterday.
The slowdown will be “short-term” because China continues to focus on expanding power generation from renewable resources, Parker said.
The energy administration’s plan, which was distributed to its regional branches, state-owned grid operators and utility companies, includes 837 megawatts of “distributed-access” wind farms, which produce electricity for consumption at the place of generation. The plan also includes 1 gigawatt for pilot grid-connected projects, Shi said.
Approvals for projects in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu and Xinjiang are not included in the plan. Proposed projects in these regions will be considered separately, Shi said.
Curtailment, when wind farms produce at less than their generation capacity, has been seen in regions including Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, Parker said.
“Winning bids are heavily skewed toward those areas or provinces that don’t have grid connection problems,” said Charles Yonts, an analyst at CLSA Ltd in Hong Kong.
China Longyuan Power Group Corp (龍源電力), China’s biggest wind-farm developer, said on March 26 that it plans to add 1.6 gigawatts of capacity this year, down from 2 gigawatts in 2011.
The nation installed 20 gigawatts of wind farms last year, an 18 percent increase from a year earlier, according to New Energy Finance. The London-based research firm expects new installations to decline to 19.1 gigawatts this year.
“For turbine makers, it’s the worst news,” Parker said. “Their growth’s is going to decelerate and may be negative.”
Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co (新疆金風科技), China’s second-biggest wind turbine maker, said in March that it expects first-quarter net income to fall more than 50 percent. Its profit last year tumbled 73.5 percent from a year earlier.