China wind power development back on track, but…..

Share

The latest market report from GWEC is encouraging reading for the Chinese wind industry, but the main challenges for the future development are still not solved.

The new Global Wind Statistics 2013 from Global Wind Energy Council shows a global recession in the wind power development with the Chinese market as a remarkable exception. After two years with lower new installed capacity than the previous year, 2013 gave 16 GW new capacity in China, now reaching a total installed capacity of 91.4 GW wind power.

Annual installed wind power capacity in China in MW.

Annual installed wind power capacity in China in MW. Source: GWEC.

The un-official NEA target for 2013 was 18 GW and this is probably the level of new capacity NEA would like to see for the years to come for on-shore turbines. The peak in installed capacity was in 2010 with almost 19 GW, while 2011 and 2012 showed a decrease (17.5 GW and 12.9 GW).

For the Chinese wind industry this is good news. The Chinese wind manufacturers are totally depended on the Chinese market – only the biggest companies have succeeded in global activities on a small scale – and the last couple of years have been a nightmare for a number of companies with Sinovel as the most known. And a level of around 18 GW annually would give new wind to at least the biggest and most competitive companies.

But the crisis in the Chinese wind industry is probably not finished yet for several reasons.

Firstly, the main barriers for integration of wind power into the Chinese energy system have not be removed. In average more than 20% of the potential wind power production is curtailed on a yearly basis, and some wind farms experience more than 40% of the yearly production is curtailed. Needless to say that this is jeopardizing the economy of the wind farm projects if this continue. The integration issue is first and foremost a question about the right incentives for the thermal power plants to be more flexible – the cure is quite clear, but such institutional changes require a strong hand from the whole government and coordinated effort from a number of different ministries.

Secondly the Chinese government aims to gradually reduce the size of the Feed-In-Tariff, which again puts strong requirements on the future development of the wind turbines to lower the total cost of energy – both the investment cost but not least improving the reliability and reducing the operational costs.

Thirdly the requirements from the grid to the wind turbines are increasingly strong. This is necessary in order to technically integrate a larger share of wind power and also in line with the global development, where wind turbines more and more is considered as “normal” power plants with requirements or delivering different types of services to the power system. This put even more pressure on the Chinese wind manufacturers to be innovative and deliver with high quality. On the other hand – if the Chinese manufacturers can deliver to the future Chinese market they will also be able to compete on the global market to the benefit of the global development and deployment of wind power.

So let us enjoy the revival of the Chinese wind power market in 2013, but let us hope the Chinese wind turbine manufacturers and the Chinese government will be able to act quickly on the current challenges. Failure to act will be a serious threat to the future for the Chinese wind power industry and for the global wind power development as such.

 

Integration of RE – made simple

Share

“Why make it complicated when it is simple” might be the motto of Energinet.dk – the Danish Transmission System Operator, at least when it come to explain the fundamentals regarding integration of variable renewable energy. But of course the have the experience, with 55% of the electricity consumption in December 2013 delivered by wind power.

At the IRENA assembly in Abu Dhabi, Peter Jørgensen, Vice President for International Relations, gave a short, but very clear presentation of the challenges, means and the preconditions for a successful grid-integration.

Challenges
The main challenges for variable RE compared to conventional power production is how to develop the energy system to maximize the value of the generation as it come. The characteristics for these RE technologies – the variability of the renewable resources, the location of the energy production – which might be far from load centres or as household connector photovoltaic, and the cost structure with large upfront investments and almost zero marginal energy costs – stresses the “old” energy system and the “old” thinking about how to run the power system and power markets.

The Danish energy system a January night with high wind power production

The Danish energy system a January night with high wind power production

Means
In order to solve this challenge, focus should be on grid development and flexibility measures. Peter Jørgensen underlined at the presentation the fact, that investments in transmission lines are much cheaper than investments in power generation, and strong transmission grids will be able to balance RE sources in larger areas. Furthermore competitive electricity markets are necessary to ensure optimal utilization of the transmissions grid in a flexible way.

The flexibility measures includes grid codes to ensure stability, and clear price signals reflecting the system balance to incentivize dynamic response. The SmartGrid concept should be replaced by SmartEnergy to optimize RE utilization across energy sector and support price flexibility. Last but least, new operational procedures and forecasting tools are needed to ensure efficient system balancing and security of supply.

Preconditions
To make this happen, a political commitment and regulatory framework is a prerequisite, together with long term grid planning and a similar coherent energy system planning to ensure the optimal use of RE in all sectors. And a new paradigm for system operation is a must, ensuring the right price mechanisms for flexibility in generation and demand, and ensuring a dynamic and efficient system balancing and security of supply

Ok, implementation of means and preconditions might not be simple but a clear picture of what is needed and why, must be the starting point. And I think that Energinet’s presentation hit the nail here!

See the Energinet.dk presentation here.

 

China: 2012 the first year with more than 20% RE power share

Share

New consolidated data for RE now available

China RE share developmentDespite a impressive growth in the RE capacity in China, it has been difficult for renewable energy to gain a significant share of the total electricity production. For the period 2000 to 2010 the percentage has been closer to 15% than to 20% in most years, hardly keeping pace with the high growth rates in electricity consumption. However, in 2012 the share passed the 20% line and reached 20.2%, mainly due to and increase in hydro power and wind power.

A new publication from China National Renewable Energy Centre (CNREC) gives a good overview of the development of renewable energy in China from 2000 to 2012. Previous figures for capacity and production of hydro, wind, solar and biomass has been consolidated and revised in order to give the most accurate picture of the development. Furthermore, more information regarding investments and comparison with other countries and regions are brought up to date. Finally, the leaflet gives an overview of the Chinese RE policy and current RE targets. Download it from CNRECs web site.

 

China now active member of IRENA

Share

China high RE-ambitions confirmed by entering the International Renewable Energy Agency

After a period as observer, China has now formally entered IRENA as member country. At the 4th session of the IRENA assembly Liu Qi, the vice director of China’s National Energy Administration and head of the Chinese delegation, recognized the work carried out of IRENA as a very important part of the global development of renewable energy. International cooperation is necessary to promote RE, and IRENA is a good platform for China’s engagement in such cooperation.

China’s active involvement in IRENA is a clear sign on the Chinese governments commitment to an ambitious development of renewable energy in China. The activities within the framework of IRENA will help in overcoming the barriers in China for reaching the RE targets. Furthermore China sees IRENA as a platform for strong international cooperation on removing trade barriers for RE globally and for strengthen the deployment of RE in the developing countries. China will actively support this development by support to capacity building and training activities to promote knowledge and state-of-the-art solutions globally.

Successful IRENA session

The fourth session of the IRENA assembly with more than 600 participants showed a consolidated organisation with strong support from the member countries and with useful products to showcase. The IRENA REMAP was presented, giving clear indications that it is possible to reach the UN targets of doubling the share of RE towards 2030 compared with 2010, and that it can be done without additional costs, especially taking into account the potential for enhanced energy efficiency. Also the IRENA cost analyses and analyses of job creation give a good platform for dissemination of trustworthy information about the real possibilities for RE in the global energy system. See more about the IRENA activities and the results from the assembly at the IRENA web site.

 

Africa Clean Energy Corridor – Warming up to the IRENAs annual meeting 18 to 19 January

Share

Africa Clean Energy Corridor – Warming up to the IRENAs annual meeting

IRENA have it’s fourth session of the Assembly in Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow. For me it is a special occasion since China formally will be member of IRENA, hopefully to the benefit for both IRENA and China. More about this in following blog posts.

Yesterday – as a warm up to the Assembly – focus is on Africa and how to establish a Africa Clean Energy Corridor – from Cairo to Cape Town. A number of ministers from Eastern and Souther Africa Power Pool countries discussed the potential benefits of a large scale regional initiative.

The background for the discussion is, that the current energy supply in the area is dominated by fossil fuels, the energy demand is rapidly growing, and so is the exchange of energy between the countries through new interconnectors. The potential for renewable energy (RE) usage is very high, but without special initiatives fossil fuel technologies will probably continue to play the major role in the energy supply in the future.

Among the main challenges for the deployment of RE are how to make such project bankable, and how to reduce investor risk. Also lack of knowledge about RE technologies in the different countries is blocking for a rapid development, and furthermore lack of transmission capacity might be a serious barrier for the efficient utilization of the huge RE potential, which are uneven distributed in the Eastern and Southern Africa.

The ministers and representatives for the participating countries pointed to the need for active policy actions and determination, as well as a common understanding between politicians about the possibilities for RE in the region. Capacity building is considered as an very important activity for enabling a more rapid deployment of RE, and also the importance of electricity connections, not only between the countries but also to areas outside of the region was emphasized as a necessary next step.

A partnership panel supported the overall picture drawn by the ministers. China as example emphasized the need to actively promote RE before fossil fuels and to pay attention to the development of the infrastructure to integrate RE.

As a conclusion of the meeting the involved countries approved a final communique, which commit the countries to work with IRENA on the following Action Agenda to promote and accelerate the development of the Africa Clean Energy Corridor:

i. Zoning and Resource Assessment: Partner with expert institutions to identify zones for the development of renewable power plants in areas of high resource potential and routes for the efficient transmission of electricity to load centres. IRENA should expand its Global Renewable Energy Atlas to help identify promising development zones.

ii. Country and Regional Planning: Work with regulatory and planning bodies and expert institutions, including at the regional level, to encourage integrated resource planning that fully considers renewable power options to optimize investments in generation and transmission infrastructure. IRENA should also support the inclusion of more renewable power in country and regional plans by providing targeted information and data, especially on the declining costs of renewable energy technology.

iii. Enabling Frameworks for Investment: Cooperate closely with international financial institutions to encourage innovative financing structures, such as loan guarantees, that reduce risk and leverage government and donor resources. IRENA should support the development of government policies to enable investments in renewables and the creation of bankable project proposals through the Project Navigator.

iv. Capacity Building: Work with regional bodies, countries, donors and research institutions to build the human and institutional capacity to plan, construct and operate power systems with a greater share of renewable generation. In this context, IRENA should facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learnt.

v. Public Information: Raise awareness on the Africa Clean Energy Corridor at the global, regional, and country levels to promote the benefits of the Corridor in providing secure, sustainable and affordable energy to meet rising energy demand.

The communique will be presented at the Assembly session tomorrow as the basis for the next years’ platform for cooperation between IRENA and the Eastern and Southern Africa.

Read more here

 

Green renevenus for green energy – full report launched

Share

The full CNREC – IIISD report on green revenues is now released. The report includes case stories from eight countries on how green revenues can be used to stimulate transition towards a more green energy system and point to the potential impact for China of such policy measures. Find the report here and a short wrap-up of the summary in my previous post.

 

Time for more flexibility in the Chinese power system

Share

Lack of flexibility is one of the biggest obstacles for integration of fluctuating renewable energy in the Chinese power system. The thermal power plants and the transmission grid are currently operated too inflexible, which especially in North China results in massive curtailment of wind power.

Looking more into the problems reveals both technical challenges, lack of economic incentives and regulatory issues as the main reasons for this inflexibility, which damages the further development of renewable energy in China.

Fortunately experiences from other countries show that these problems can be overcome. In Europe curtailment of renewable energy is very small, even in areas with much higher share of renewable energy that in the Northern China.

One of the secrets behind Denmark’s large share of wind power is the extreme flexibility of the thermal fossil fired power plants. Due to years of continuous effort, most of the Danish power plants have very low minimum capacity output for on-grid operation, they have fast up and down regulating capabilities, and they are able to have a quick start-up from zero to full load, compared to power plants in other countries. Establishment of a time-dynamic pricing for power purchase via a well-functioning market has been a strong motivator for this development. The dynamic pricing, with high prices when the demand is high and uncontrolled power supply is low and visa versa, send a clear signal to the power producers when to produce and when to avoid producing.

 

Danish experiences were presented at a CNREC-RED expert meeting on flexible power plants 4 December 2013

Danish experiences were presented at a CNREC-RED expert meeting on flexible power plants 4 December 2013

Flexibility for the thermal power plants was the topic to an expert meeting on 4 December 2013, arranged by CNREC and the Sino-Danish RED program. Experts from Denmark shared their experience in how to make coal-fired power plants more flexible. The meeting also discussed the lack of economic incentives for the Chinese power producers to operate more flexibility.

You can find more information about the meeting and the presentations from the meeting here.

 

Should China link eco-tax and RE subsidies?

Share

CNREC and IISD looks at green revenues for green energy

Earmarked revenues from enviromental taxes could be one of the ways forward for China to ensure the needed subsidies for it’s ambitious development plans for renewables. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the China National Renewable Energy Centre (CNREC) are currently finalising a report on this issue, looking at best-practice examples from other countries and the implications for China.

Summary report on Green Revenues for Green Energy

Summary report on Green Revenues for Green Energy

The preliminary results of the analyses has been published in a summary report, and while we wait for the whole report to be ready, here are the key issues and findings:
1. Environmental taxes can be pro-growth and pro-competitiveness
2. Revenue stability can be ensured with adjustments, price caps and price floors
3. Revenues can promote renewables, as well as protecting the vulnerable, improving  competitiveness and building policy acceptance
4. Policy stability increases leveraging of private finance
5. Multiple environmental fiscal policies, including taxes and trading schemes, can and do coexist in many countries
6. Renewable energy revenues need good management and governance if they are to achieve targeted objecives efficently.

These bullit points are explained in more detail in the summary report. Download it here!

 

China: Social, economic and environmental development must be coordinated

Share

New report from CCICED on China’s environmental protection and social development

At the annual meeting 13 to 15 November 2013 in the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) a Task Force for China’s environmental protection and social development launched a summary report with 6 recommendations for how to ensure development of an “Ecological Civilisation”. This vision includes a harmonious society, sharing the fruits of development and safeguarding social justice and equity, but there is an urgent need to deepen the currently weak understanding of environmental and social relationships, and to identify priority fields for action in order to achieve this vision.

The task force operates with a framework for policymakers: 1) Awareness, 2) behaviour and participation, and 3) coordinated governance. The report points to the more soft topics in the necessary transformation of the Chinese society with focus on sustainability and environmental protection, and it sets up a model for how environmental behaviour, public environmental governance and environmental values can be coordinated and jointly developed.

The six recommendations from the Task Force starts with a recommendation on elaboration a vision of coordinated social, economic and environmental development for 2050 and development of a phased plan of policy and actions for the period to 2020. The recommendations also points to a number of activities within the next years to strengthen the long-term vision and the practical next-steps towards more environmental awareness, behaviour and governance. As example, the report suggest that the next five-year plan should be listed as the National Economic, Social and Environmental Development Plan, so that environmental policy and the associated planning will become a significant item in parallel with economic and social policies. Also and Environmental Impact Accessments (EIAs) should be introduced for major policies.

Policy and action framework - from the CCICED report

Policy and action framework – from the CCICED report

 

The Task Force comprises both Chinese and international experts, including high-level people from the Research Office of the State Council and from the Energy Research Institute under NDRC. It is definitely worth reading. Find the report at CCICED website.

 

Bio-energy a hit in China

Share

Bio-energy is a hit in China. At least if you judge by the overwhelming interest from Chinese participants in the 2013 China International Bio-energy Summit, which were held on 4 and 5 July.

2013_China_International_Bio-Energy_Summit___Expo

Both the plenum sessions and the more technical parallel sessions were quite packed with  participants with appetite on knowing more about the possibilities in biomass and bio-energy for China. I had the fortune to be invited to moderate a plenum session on regional experiences on the use of biomass for energy in Canada, Denmark, Austria and Brazil, which gave both an impressive and kaleidoscopic overview of the many different possibilities for use of bio-energy – from power and heating production to biofuels in various forms.

The second day I hade a brief introduction to the Danish biomass experiences for heating, which started in the 1980’ties. Today biomass has an important role in Denmark’s ambitious target for a non-fossil fuel free energy system in 2050. See my presentation here: biomass for heating in Denmark-handouts.