Grid-connected wind capacity has increased thirty-fold in China in the six years since the Renewable Energy Law was passed. At the end of 2012, China led the world in cumulative wind installations with 63 gigawatts (GW), while approved projects planned or under construction exceeded 44 GW (He, 2013). Despite the lead in capacity, however, China generated 30% less electricity from wind than the United States, which was a close second in terms of total installations.

Reduced capacity factors have been attributed to high amounts of forced curtailment, which reached as high as 50% in some regions last year. The causes of curtailment are manifold: high penetrations of wind in provinces far from load centers, inflexibility of the coal-heavy generation mix, and institutional barriers owing to incomplete power deregulation. To address these shortfalls and other chronic power challenges, China’s grid companies propose to significantly expand long-distance ultrahigh-voltage (UHV) interconnections as well as strengthen interprovincial and intraprovincial ties. These will reportedly double wind utilization by 2020 (State Grid, 2010). However, institutional hurdles to better integrating wind, ranging from an intense debate within China over the future structure of the grid to inflexible transmission operation and pricing, threaten to delay or derail benefits of interconnection.

Download Full Paper

Recommended citation:

Davidson, M. R. (2013). Politics of Power in China: Institutional Bottlenecks to Reducing Wind Curtailment Through Improved Transmission. International Association for Energy Economics Energy Forum, 4, 40–42.