Much has been made of the competition between the United States and China for the title of world’s leading wind energy country, with the former claiming leading generator and the latter claiming leading installer.
I have covered several times now the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) belief that they are in fact the most legitimate holder of leading wind energy country in the world by virtue of the fact that they generate more energy from wind than China does. James Walker, a member of the AWEA, has had a piece repeatedly published on the AWEA website discussing the issue, and in no uncertain terms ensuring that everyone knows “America is number 1!”
“Some mistakenly believe that China has become the leading producer of wind energy, surpassing the U.S. in this sector like so many others,” wrote James Walker in a post currently attributed to January 19, but which was also published back in November as well. “However, a better measure is the total amount of electricity, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), that each country produces from wind and delivers to customers each year.”
However, Pranav Srivastava, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Power, believes that China will “surpass US wind power generation by 2016.”
Writing earlier this month in a post for AltEnergyMag.com, Srivastava disputes the black-and-white assessment made by AWEA members like James Walker, based on the fact that China’s “comparatively lower levels of wind power generation can be attributed to slower wind speeds and the country’s inadequate grid infrastructure.”
“For a fairer assessment, we can use installed capacity to estimate the extensiveness of wind power development in a country,” writes Srivastava. “China’s cumulative wind power installed capacity increased from 402 Megawatts (MW) in 2001 to 110 Gigawatts (GW) in 2014, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 50.5%. In terms of cumulative installed capacity in 2014, China is clearly ahead, as US capacity currently stands at approximately 66 GW.”
On top of that, China’s annual installations remain more stable than that of the US, “as the latter’s annual installations rely heavily upon government incentives, which are often under speculation” — a fact borne out by the mammoth discrepancy between installations in each country, China adding approximately 18 GW of new capacity in 2014, and the US only adding 4.9.
As a result, China produced approximately 169 TWh of electricity in 2014, while the US only beat them by a smidgen, generating over 175 TWh.
With all these figures in mind, it is not difficult to see why China is likely to soon overtake the US in terms of wind energy generation. Simply put, “the US wind sector may not be in as healthy a condition as President Obama recently claimed” in his recent State of the Union Address.
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