China looks to slow wind power rush

BEIJING, CHINA - The Chinese government is considering stricter approval rules for wind power projects to cool heady growth in the sector, a Chinese newspaper said, following a report that the country had overtaken the United States in installed capacity.

Citing unnamed sources, the China Securities Journal said the national energy administration was considering tighter procedures that would include requiring local governments to get the written approval of the National Energy Bureau before going ahead with wind projects with installed capacity of less than 50 megawatts MW.

"Analysts pointed out that it is hoped that this new policy will cool the current excessively fast growth of the wind power sector," said the Chinese-language paper.

Up to now, local governments have merely had to report to central authorities plans for wind projects of less than 50 MW, not gain their express permission.

Local officials keen for a piece of the potentially lucrative sector have often used that loophole to skirt approval barriers by nominally breaking up bigger wind projects into clusters, with each separate project on paper having less than 50 MW in capacity, said the newspaper.

The new rules would come into force in the first half of this year at the earliest, said the report.

The proposal shows how China's rapid wind power growth, the envy of some other economies, can be a headache for the country's energy regulators, who try to coordinate wind power sources with other power providers to provide stable supply.

China added 18.9 gigawatts of new wind power capacity in 2010, making its total capacity 44.7 GW, the Global Wind Energy Council said. This compares to earlier estimates of 42.

But many Chinese wind farms can sit idle, because of the failure to coordinate development with other power sources, said the newspaper report.

China's wind market doubled every year between 2005 and 2009 in terms of total installed capacity, and it has been the world's largest annual market since 2009.

In 2010, China overtook the United States as the country with the most installed wind energy capacity.


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