China is leading global efforts in shifting to cleaner energy sources, thanks to numerous technological breakthroughs and robust development in its wind and photovoltaic power industries supported by strengthened innovation and resilient industrial chains.
China’s self-developed 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine off the coast of southeast China’s Fujian Province.
In the wind power sector, key technological breakthroughs such as the invention of super-long blades have been made continuously, with China surpassing other international players in large-scale and floating wind power platform technologies, according to Li Chuangjun, director of the National Energy Administration’s (NEA) new energy and renewable energy department.
The world’s first 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine off the coast of east China’s Fujian Province has the largest single-unit generating capacity of any turbine in operation around the world. It was connected to the grid and began generating electricity in July.
From China’s southernmost island province of Hainan to the traditionally coal-producing Shanxi Province in the north, wind power industry clusters are forming across the country.
At a pilot wind farm in Tongyu County, northeast China’s Jilin Province, wind turbine blades with impeller diameters of 195 meters are working hard. The blades are made of carbon fiber materials, which are lighter and stronger than conventional materials.
The manufacturers of the blades are located over 10 kilometers away in the county’s central town, where other companies producing key wind turbine components, from nacelles and support towers to screws and anchor bolts, can also be found.
“China’s wind power industry has become a star sector with international competitiveness, thanks to relatively complete industrial and supply chains,” said Du Zhongming, president of the Electric Power Planning and Engineering Institute.
Innovations in the solar power industry
The country’s solar power industry is also making accelerated progress in technological innovation, with advanced products being applied more broadly, according to Yang Xudong, an official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
Cell technology is a key part of the photovoltaic industry upgrade. A type of photovoltaic cell module produced by Tongwei Solar (Chengdu) Co., Ltd has recently hit a record module efficiency high, certified by TÜV Rheinland, a Germany-based leading testing and certification service provider.
Compared to conventional modules, these modules are more resistant to high temperatures and can generate power from both sides, which increases efficiency and lowers the costs of power generation, said Meng Xiajie, deputy director of the company’s advanced technology department.
“Chinese photovoltaic power companies are beefing up efforts to develop cells with different technologies that have more potential than conventional batteries in terms of conversion and cost efficiency,” said Zeng Tao, chief analyst of power equipment and the new energy industry with the China International Capital Corporation.
Leading global clean energy shift
By the end of June, the country’s installed photovoltaic power capacity was 470 million kilowatts, top globally for an eighth consecutive year, and its installed wind power capacity was 389 million kilowatts, top globally for a 13th consecutive year, data from the National Energy Administration (NEA) shows.
Building on its large industrial scale, the country is accelerating the upgrading of its wind and solar power industries to achieve a higher quality of development.
Strengthened competitiveness has helped China’s wind and solar power companies expand their presence in the world market. China-made photovoltaic modules, wind turbines, gearboxes and other key components accounted for 70 percent of the global market share last year, according to NEA data.
The rapid expansion of the wind and solar power industries has made significant contributions to China’s broader economic growth. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that in the first half of this year, China’s output of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines increased by 54.5 percent and 48.1 percent, respectively.
China aims to see its total installed wind and photovoltaic power capacity surpass 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030 as it accelerates the shift toward a cleaner energy system.
The country will advance its large-scale and high-quality development of wind and solar power generation on all fronts in the 2021-2025 period, according to a government work plan.