Wind alone can meet China's electricity demands projected for 2030

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Washington, September 11 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have estimated that wind alone has the potential to meet China's electricity demands projected for 2030.

The research, carried out by environmental scientists from Harvard and Tsinghua University, demonstrated the enormous potential for wind-generated electricity in China.

China has become second only to the US in its national power generating capacity - 792.5 gigawatts per year with an expected future 10 percent annual increase-and is now the world's largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter.

According to lead author Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), "The real question for the globe is: What alternatives does China have?"

While wind-generated energy accounts for only 0.4 percent of China's total current electricity supply, the country is rapidly becoming the world's fastest growing market for wind power, trailing only the US, Germany, and Spain in terms of installed capacities of existing wind farms.

Development of renewable energy in China, especially wind, received an important boost with passage of the Renewable Energy Law in 2005, which provides favorable tax status for alternative energy investments.

"To determine the viability of wind-based energy for China we established a location-based economic model, incorporating the bidding process, and calculated the energy cost based on geography," said co-author Xi Lu, a graduate student in McElroy's group at SEAS.

"Using the same model, we also evaluated the total potentials for wind energy that could be realized at a certain cost level," he added.

Specifically, the researchers used meteorological data from the Goddard Earth Observing Data Assimilation System (GEOS) at NASA.

Further, they assumed the wind energy would be produced from a set of land-based 1.5-megawatt turbines operating over non-forested, ice-free, rural areas with a slope no more than 20 percent.

"By bringing the capabilities of atmospheric science to the study of energy we were able to view the wind resource in a total context," explained co-author Chris P. Nielsen, Executive Director of the Harvard China Project, based at SEAS.

The analysis indicated that a network of wind turbines operating at as little as 20 percent of their rated capacity could provide potentially as much as 24.7 petawatt-hours of electricity annually, or more than seven times China's current consumption.

The researchers also determined that wind energy alone, at around 7.6 US Cents per kilowatt-hour, could accommodate the country's entire demand for electricity projected for 2030.

The use of cleaner wind energy could both meet future demands and, even if only used to supplement existing energy sources, significantly reduce carbon emissions. (ANI)

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