Chinese Plan Indicates Fewer Wind Farm May Win Approval

Bloomberg • Posted: Monday, April 9, 2012

China, the world’s biggest wind- power market, issued plans that may indicate it will approve fewer of the projects this year than it did in 2011.

The National Energy Administration plans to approve 16.76 gigawatts of wind-power projects in 2012, Shi Lishan, deputy director of the administration’s renewable energy division, said by telephone today. That doesn’t include six provinces where extensive capacity has already been built or is planned and where new approvals will be considered separately, Shi said. China approved 26.83 gigawatts of wind farms last year.

Authorities began tightening approval for projects last year after rapid growth of capacity led some wind farms to produce less power than they were capable of either because the electricity generated exceeded demand or because transmission lines couldn’t safely carry it. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Demi Zhu estimates China will approve 18 gigawatts to 20 gigawatts of new wind projects this year.

“There’s an attempt to slow down to make sure development of wind farms is more carefully planned,” Michael Parker, an analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong, said today by phone. The slowdown will be “short term” because China continues to be focused on expanding renewable power generation, Parker said.

The energy administration’s plan, which was distributed to its regional branches, state-owned grid operators and utility companies, includes 837 megawatts of “distributed-access” wind farms, which produce electricity for consumption at the place of generation. The plan also includes 1 gigawatt for pilot grid- connected projects, said the administration’s Shi

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Approvals for projects in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu and Xinjiang aren’t included in the plan. Proposed projects in these regions will be considered separately, said Shi.

Curtailment, when wind farms produce at less than their generation capacity, has been seen in regions including Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, said Sanford C. Bernstein’s Parker.

“Winning bids are heavily skewed toward those areas or provinces that don’t have grid connection problems,” Charles Yonts, an analyst at CLSA Ltd. in Hong Kong, said by e-mail.

China Longyuan Power Group Corp. (916), the nation’s biggest wind-farm developer, said Mar. 26 that it plans to add 1.6 gigawatts of capacity this year, down from 2 gigawatts in 2011.

The nation installed 20 gigawatts of wind farms in 2011, an 18 percent increase from a year earlier, according to New Energy Finance. The London-based research firm expects new installations to decline to 19.1 gigawatts this year.

“For turbine makers, it’s the worst news,” Parker said. “Their growth’s gonna decelerate and may be negative.”

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. (002202), China’s second-biggest wind turbine maker, said in March that it expects first-quarter net income to fall more than 50 percent. Its profit last year tumbled 73.5 percent from a year earlier.