China downgrades solar and wind power – pushes for nuclear, hydro and shale gas

Common sense and simple economics are beginning to reassert themselves as the the fundamental weaknesses in the fashionable – but subsidised – expansion of solar and wind power plants are revealed. The expensive, intermittent and unpredictable generation  that derives from solar and wind power plants can – at best – be used to augment an existing system. They are actually useful as an auxiliary heat and power source as small decentralised units. But in a large power grid they are more of a nuisance than an asset and can only increase the cost to the consumer.

China has now published a policy document changing direction towards nuclear and hydro power and an accelerated development of shale gas use. Solar and wind power are downgraded.

Electric Light & Power

China will accelerate the use of new-energy sources such as nuclear energy and put an end to blind expansion in industries such as solar energy and wind power in 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says in a government report published on March 5. 

China will instead develop nuclear power in 2012, actively develop hydroelectric power, tackle key problems more quickly in the exploration and development of shale gas, and increase the share of new energy and renewable energy in total energy consumption. ……. 

As solar power and wind power development may slow down by government measures to curb blind expansion, hydropower is expected to play a more important role in fulfilling the renewable energy consumption target and contribute two-thirds to the target.

Based on the average cost of 6,870 yuan/kW during 2006-2010, the planned 20 GW hydropower installed capacity will require an investment of 137.4 billion yuan (US$21.7 billion).

….. China will pay more attention to the utilization of new energy, hence wind power and solar power, which failed to achieve sound utilization, will bid farewell to the era of fast development, said Zhai Ruoyu, former general manager of the China Datang Corp., one of China’s five power giants.

…… the average operating hours of hydropower generating facilities decreased 376 hours to 3,028 hours in 2011 due to severe drought, the lowest level of the past 20 years.

Meanwhile, the operating hours of wind power generating units plunged by 144 hours in 2011 despite an increase of 48.16 per cent in on-grid wind power output. The operating hours of solar power generating units also declined in spite of the tripling of installed capacity of solar PV power.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: