Can the increasing penetration of wind power be handled without threatening the stability of the power system?
When Taiwan first tapped into its huge wind energy potential, it did not expect a growing swarm of big-time foreign developers pitching in. Foreign energy companies are highly attracted to the country’s geographical similarities to Northern Europe, conditions which are very suitable for offshore wind farms. The unprecedented amount of interest enabled the Taiwanese government to set an ambitious 3 GW offshore wind target for 2025, a move being mimicked by countries all over the region where massive renewable energy resources have yet to be fully unlocked.
Experts stress that recent power challenges in Asia are proving that it is time to put these energy assets to good use, especially as the cost of wind power continues to plummet. From big names like China and India to more recent players like Vietnam and the Philippines, wind energy in Asia has been seeing major technological developments despite regulatory and cultural challenges.
Asia led the globe in the number of new installations in 2016, with China maintaining its top spot for the last eight years and India following closely in the top five rankings. In fact, recent data from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) show that China’s cumulative wind power installations are 3.4 GW more than all of the European Union combined.
“Wind power continues to grow in double digits, but we can’t expect the industry to set a new record every single year”, saysSteve Sawyer, GWEC secretary general. “Chinese installations were an impressive 23,328 MW, although this was less than 2015’s spectacular 30 GW, which was driven by impending feed-in tariff reductions. Also, Chinese electricity demand growth is slackening, and the grid is unable to handle the volume of new wind capacity additions; although we expect the market to pick up again in 2017.”
The Chinese offshore market began what many hope is the sector’s long awaited take-off in 2016, with China passing Denmark to achieve 3rd place in the global offshore rankings, after the UK and Germany.
GWEC, however, forecasts that China will experience a slowdown in 2017. After taking off in 2016 and grabbing the 3rd spot in the global offshore rankings, the Chinese market will continue to face the major challenge of curtailment.
Sawyer says that China’s National Energy Administration and State Grid is heavily working out transmission bottlenecks, among a number of other grid issues. Experts believe that China’s situation will improve over the medium term, but in the meantime, firms should expect a loss in profitability and greater competition.
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