China is finding it difficult to make progress toward its target of installing 5GW of offshore wind capacity by 2015, admitted Yi Yuechun, deputy chief engineer at HydroChina and a leading wind power project planner.
At the end of last year, China’s offshore wind installed capacity totaled 389.6MW. The country added the third largest amount of new offshore capacity last year, but China is not building fast enough to meet its 5GW goal. This year, it is likely to be overtaken by Germany in terms of new installed capacity.
Preliminary approval has been granted by China’s central government for offshore projects representing just under 4GW of offshore wind capacity, according to Yi, speaking in Shanghai last week.
But leading Chinese power companies are under considerable financial pressure and are reluctant to invest significantly in offshore wind power projects, for which electricity generation rates and feed in tariffs (FIT) remain unclear. This has meant slow progress for many projects, said Yi.
He has called for the introduction of an offshore wind-specific FIT and for China’s various marine management authorities to enhance their communication, coordination and efficiency.
"China is weak in marine hydrographic surveys and submarine geological surveys," said Yi. "These works are hard and take a long time. It has affected smooth progress of offshore wind farm construction."
Initial offshore wind concessions for 1GW of capacity were awarded in 2010, but these projects off Jiangsu have been held up, partially due to clashes between competing marine management authorities. These stalled projects will begin construction this year, said Yi.
To date, China’s central government has approved 13 offshore wind projects. These are located off: Shanghai City(2), Jiangsu(7), Shandong, Hebei (2) and Guangdong (2) provinces.
Meanwhile, Liaoning province has submitted its offshore wind development plan for central examination, and Zhejiang, Fujian and Hainan provinces have made strong progress on their plans. In addition, Guangxi is preparing one.
An additional 28 offshore wind projects, totaling 8.5GW, have secured early stage approval from central government. They are located in: Zhejiang (5 projects), Jiangsu (7),Fujian (2), two in Guangdong (2), one in Guangxi (1), Shanghai (1), Shandong (8), and Hainan(2).