Competing claims about China’s energy is widely disparate in the US media, depending on whether you get your facts from the right wing rags like the WSJ, or from the actual data the industries involved publish, so I think it is instructive to compare them, to put the plans for wind next to the plans for coal in context.
Currently China gets 70% of its power from coal, much higher than the US. Year-to-date, coal-fired plants contributed 45.6% of the power generated in the United States (EIA: October) in 2010. [Ed: as of 2012 that is expected to drop below 39%]
By 2015, China’s 1.4 billion people will get 933 Gigawatts of their power from coal, by building an additional 300 Gigawatts of coal-fired power units and putting 290 GW of coal-fired units into operation. The right seizes on this: “We can’t do anything about climate because China is building a coal plant a week!”
Yet coal will actually go down as a percentage of China’s power from 70% to 67% by 2015. How can adding more coal plants reduce the percentage of coal on the grid?
Because the ramp-up in all the renewable power in China is much faster. It is gathering steam to the point where it impacts the percentage of coal on the grid.
By 2020, wind power in China will have increased by between 500% and 1,000%.
Total wind installed was 26 Gigawatts at the end of 2009. The most conservative estimate of how much China plans to ramp that up to, is to get at least 150 Gigawatts of wind on the grid by 2020: a five-fold or 500% increase. (China Wind Power Outlook 2010 report)
A moderate estimate, assuming business as usual, by the Global Wind Energy Council, based on current incentives and laws in place, projects that China will have 230 Gigawatts of wind on the grid by 2020 (GWEC). Almost ten times what it was in 2009.