Smart Takes

China in the wind power driver's seat

China in the wind power driver's seat

Posting in Energy

China is the world's largest wind power market, according to the Department of Energy. And research firm iSuppli expects China to stay No. 1 for a good time to come courtesy of government support.

China is the world's largest wind power market, according to the Department of Energy. And research firm iSuppli expects China to stay No. 1 for a good time to come courtesy of government support.

Now the U.S. isn't chump change when it comes to wind power. About 10 gigawatts of capacity was added in the U.S. with $21 billion invested in 2009. Capacity jumped 40 percent in 2009. Indeed, wind power contributed 39 percent of all new energy in the U.S., down from 44 percent in 2008.

However, China is the big dog on wind power. According to the Department of Energy report via Popular Mechanics:

The United States Continued to Lead the World in Cumulative Wind Power Capacity, but Was Overtaken by China in Annual Additions. After four years of leading the world in annual wind power capacity additions, the United States dropped to second place in 2009, capturing roughly 26% of the worldwide market (behind China’s 36% market share). At the end of 2009, cumulative wind power capacity in the United States stood at more than 35,000 MW, ahead of China’s 25,853 MW and Germany’s 25,813 MW. Several countries are beginning to achieve relatively high levels of wind energy penetration in their electricity grids: end-of-2009 wind power capacity is projected to supply the equivalent of roughly 20% of Denmark’s electricity demand, 14% of Spain’s and Portugal’s, 11% of Ireland’s, and 8% of Germany’s. In the United States, the cumulative wind power capacity installed at the end of 2009 would, in an average year, be able to supply roughly 2.5% of the nation’s electricity consumption.

Here are the rankings:

Overall, there were a lot of positive takeaways from the Department of Energy report. Perhaps the largest one is that the U.S. is increasingly sourcing wind power equipment domestically. Imports of wind turbines and components fell to $4.2 billion in 2009, down from $5.4 billion.

And there are a bevy of wind projects underway in the U.S.

Add it up though and you have a scenario where China is poised to lead in the adoption of green technology both as a user and manufacturer. iSuppli said in a report that Chinese government policies are sparking a boom. According to iSuppli analyst Isaac Wang:

Thanks to assiduous government support, the China markets for wind power and photovoltaic solar energy— two major green industries in the country—climbed to new highs in 2009, the latest year for which statistics are available. Overall, the newly energized green initiatives come in the wake of a pledge from Beijing, announced in December 2009 at the Copenhagen World Climate Conference in Denmark, to cut China’s carbon emissions in 2020 by about 45 percent from their 2005 levels. To achieve the target, China has indicated willingness to reduce reliance on noxious coal sources while also bolstering its fledgling renewable energy industries in order to produce cleaner power.

Meanwhile, China is also pushing the use of locally manufactured wind turbines. Local turbines account for 76 percent of new orders.

Similar subsidies are on deck for solar power. iSuppli said China is the largest solar cell manufacturer as well as top exporter. China has stimulus programs for solar, but is likely to plan larger subsidies in the years to come.

Also see:

Popular Mechanics on China wind power and Fast Company

And more on wind power:


Share this

Larry Dignan


Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure