Nav: Home

Opportunity blows for offshore wind in China

February 21, 2020

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, China committed to rely on renewable resources for 20 percent of its energy needs by 2030. Currently, the country is on track to double that commitment, aiming to hit 40 percent by the next decade. Wind power is critical to achieving that goal. Over the past 20 years, China's wind power capacity has exploded from 0.3 gigawatts to 161 gigawatts.

But, in recent years, that growth has slowed and the hopes for China's wind-powered future have dampened.

Why? Location, location, location.

Populous coastal provinces, including Guangdong and Jiangsu, consume about 80 percent of the nation's total electricity but the vast majority of China's wind capacity comes from land-based wind farms in places like Inner Mongolia, more than a thousand miles away from most major cities.

To make matters worse, recent climate studies have suggested that the weakening land-sea temperature gradient due to global climate change is making historically windy regions, like Inner Mongolia, less windy.

In addition, much of the wind power from those regions isn't being used because of when it's produced. Research has suggested that some 16 percent of total potential wind generation was wasted between 2010 and 2016, costing more $1.2 billion.

If China is to meet and exceed its Paris goal by 2030, it's going to need to find a way to increase its wind capacity.

In a recent study, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, found that offshore wind could be a big part of the solution.

The research is published in Science Advances.

"This is an important new contribution, recognition that China has abundant off-shore wind potential that can be developed and brought on shore to the power hungry coastal provinces at costs competitive with existing coal-fired polluting power plants," said Michael McElroy, the Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at SEAS and senior author of the paper.

To calculate the capacity and cost of offshore wind in China, the researchers first identified the regions where offshore wind farms could be built, excluding shipping zones, environmentally protected areas and water depths higher than 60 meters. They calculated the wind speeds in those areas and estimated the hourly capacity for each of the turbines.

They found that the total potential wind power from wind farms built along the Chinese coast is 5.4 times larger than the current coastal demand for power.

The researchers also found that this power would be cost-efficient.

"We estimate offshore wind costs according to a range of values derived from recent offshore wind farm developments," said Peter Sherman, a graduate student at the department of Earth and Planetary Science and first author of the paper. "Offshore wind turbines have historically been prohibitively expensive, but it is clear now that, because of significant technological advances, the economics have changed such that offshore wind could be cost-competitive now with coal and nuclear power in China."

The researchers estimated that if electricity prices are high, offshore wind could provide more than 1,000 terawatt-hours, or about 36 percent of all coastal energy demand. If electricity prices are low, it could provide more than 6,000 terawatt-hours, or 200 percent of total energy demand.

"Our research demonstrates the potential for cost-effective, offshore wind to power coastal regions, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in China," said McElroy.
-end-


Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Related Wind Power Articles:

Wind forecasts power up for reliable energy production
Prediction of wind speed and direction for up to several hours in advance improves Saudi Arabia's wind energy potential.
Researchers to investigate wind power effects on bats in the Baltic Sea region
Despite the increasing numbers of wind turbines, their impacts on the environment are poorly known.
Offshore wind power now so cheap it could pay money back to consumers
The latest round of offshore wind farms to be built in the UK could reduce household energy bills by producing electricity very cheaply.
Blueprint may power up KSA's wind energy future
High-resolution analysis of wind speed across Saudi Arabia can help fast track the expansion of the Kingdom's emerging world-class wind energy industry.
New system uses wind turbines to defend the national grid from power cuts
A 'smart' system that controls the storage and release of energy from wind turbines will reduce the risk of power cuts and support the increase of wind energy use world-wide, say researchers at the University of Birmingham.
Wind beneath their wings: Albatrosses fine-tuned to wind conditions
A new study of albatrosses has found that wind plays a bigger role in their decision to take flight than previously thought, and due to their differences in body size, males and females differ in their response to wind.
Supercomputing future wind power rise
First detailed study of scenarios for how wind energy can expand to 20 percent of total US electrical supply by 2030.
Supporting structures of wind turbines contribute to wind farm blockage effect
Much about the aerodynamic effects of larger wind farms remains poorly understood.
The complicated future of offshore wind power in the US
In recent years the US Department of Energy laid out an ambitious plan to grow the US offshore wind sector.
Wind power vulnerable to climate change in India
The warming of the Indian Ocean, caused by global climate change, may be causing a slow decline in wind power potential in India, according to a new study from the Harvard John A.
More Wind Power News and Wind Power Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.