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Chinese City Picks New Wind Projects With Lottery

In most parts of the world there is probably not enough wind power capacity, but in northwestern China there is too much, it seems. As a result, one city in the Shaanxi province has decided to choose which new wind projects will go ahead through a lottery, signaling the local grid cannot take in all the available and planned wind power supply.

Reuters reports that last year, wind power capacity connected to the grid in China hit 163.7 GW, representing almost a tenth of the country’s total generating capacity and up by 10.1 percent from 2016. Grid expansion, however, has in the meantime lagged behind, which is now creating constraints for the new wind farms.

The city of Yanan has been allowed to construct 900 MW of new wind power capacity, but it has on its hands 1,300 MW worth of capacity that has been classified as eligible for construction. The local planning authorities have decided that a lottery should be used to decide which projects will go ahead and which will be shelved until such time as the grid can take the electricity they will produce.

The problem with the discrepancy between grid and power generation capacity is one of the shadows over China’s offensive in the renewables area. The country is the most generous investor in wind and solar, and also the most active. However, energy waste has been substantial, either because the grid has been unable to take in all the electricity that wind and solar installations produce, or because the transmission network is underdeveloped.

Related: The Biggest Hurdle To China’s Yuan-Priced Crude Benchmark

As a result, wind curtailment—making wind turbines produce below capacity—has become a serious issue. In 2016 alone, energy generation losses due to curtailment amounted to 49.7 TWh, according to the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. That’s equal to the total annual electricity consumption of Bangladesh, which has a population of 163 million.

What’s more, by using the electricity that basically wasted through curtailment, China could have cut 42 million tons in CO2 emissions, the Brookings Institution researchers said.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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