Local governments in China are undermining Beijing’s efforts to develop greener sources of electricity by squeezing production quotas for renewables and slapping extra levies on wind companies to prop up ailing coal-fired power plants in their regions, Chinese media reported.
Governments in the northwestern provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang and in the southwestern province of Yunnan have subsidised coal-burning plants, forcing some wind farms to take almost 60 percent of their turbines offline, industry body Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA) was quoted as saying by Caixin Online.
Support for coal over renewables is raising questions about whether China the is weaning itself from its addiction to the cheap but dirty source of energy as quickly as it can.
Wind power capacity has been growing, but about 26 percent of turbines in the country didn’t produce any power in the first three months of 2016, data from the National Energy Administration (NEA) show, according to Caixin.
“In 2015, about 15 percent of the installed wind power generation capacity sat idling, the data showed, and it was the lowest level of utilisation since 2012. Despite this, in 2015, new turbines that can produce 33 million kilowatts of electricity per year were installed, pushing up the country’s total wind power generation capacity to 129 million kilowatts per year.”
China has the largest wind energy production capacity in the world, but the problem of idling wind turbines has worsened partly because local governments assign coal plants enough production targets to survive at the expense of ones using renewable sources, said Qin Haiyan, secretary general of the CWEA.
Coal plants have long been the easiest, fastest way for some provinces to stimulate local economic growth and create jobs, Caixin said. “Some local governments have adopted policies that interrupt the development of renewable energy sources,” said Qin.