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China Spends Billions on Wind Power Plants

by John Brian Shannon | May 5, 2012

It says everything about China that a nation of 1.35 billion people which is enjoying a rapidly growing economy, chooses to spend unimaginably large sums of money to greentech it’s industry – even as many competing interests vie for the same revenue.

China is spending billions on offshore wind power plants.

Beijing residents rarely see the sky these days due to constant smog caused by coal-fired power plants, industrial pollution, transportation and the construction sector. Many cities in China are finding themselves completely blanketed by thick, particulate-laden clouds and worryingly, at a certain point smog begins to affect worker attendance and productivity rates – which affect the corporate bottom line.

According to CLPmag.org a non-profit organization which works throughout Asia;

“It has been estimated that 410,000 Chinese die as a result of pollution each year.” — CLPmag.org

It’s a vicious circle. High pollution levels induce worker ailments, which lower productivity, resulting in lower profits, which conspire to cause company directors to demand stricter environmental regulations — as they recognize the costs of environmental inaction are much higher than the cost of environmental action.

At the end of 2010, China operated 620 coal-fired power plants burning over 3 billion tons of coal per year. That’s a lot of CO2, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, airborne mercury, other toxins and particulate. China created 7.2 billion tons of CO2 last year, that’s just the CO2 component of airborne emissions. And, except for nitrous oxides (due to a successful Chinese government program to drastically reduce NOx levels) all those numbers will easily double by 2020.

As China relies primarily on coal-fired electrical generation, when 1000 megawatts of wind power displaces 1000 megawatts of coal-fired power, it saves 1,640,000 tons of CO2 – plus many other toxic pollutants per year – and every year thereafter.

To help address industrial pollution and worker health, China has ramped up spending in recent years – and now spends more than any country on sustainable energy projects.

“This year alone, China’s National Energy Bureau says that China intends to start construction on 1,000 MW of offshore wind power projects.” 

“Furthermore, by 2020, it predicts that China will have invested $100 billion in offshore wind and will have installed up to 30,000 MW. That’s equal to all of the onshore wind farms currently installed in China, already the world’s largest market for wind power.” — Technology Review 

In China, delivering on the environmental front means saving tens of thousands of lives every year along with accumulating health-care savings. Is it any wonder that the government of China has displayed such a high level of interest in pursuing green energy policy?

Although late entering the game – China is now making huge strides to properly address it’s environmental challenges.