wind greenpeace.jpgSpain’s Gamesa has won a mammoth order for 601 wind turbines from China’s Longyuan Electric Power Group.

Worth €240m, this is the largest single order for wind power ever awarded by China, according to Gamesa, and the turbines are destined for wind farms in different parts of the country.

The turbines have a combined a total installed capacity of 510MW and Gamesa, keen to promote the green credentials of wind power, says the turbines will save China 110,000 tep (equivalent tons of oil) a year and avoid the emission of 767,000 tons of CO2 a year.

Gamesa, through its Gamesa Wind Tianjin subsidiary, has also opened its first Chinese factory, at Huayuan technology park in Tianjin province. This factory will concentrate on making turbines while a second plant, also in Tianjin, will be built at a later date to make blades.

Gamesa, the world’s second largest turbine manufacturer, has big hopes for China. Gamesa Wind Tianjin now has 1200 MW of wind capacity on its order books and claims a 35% share of China’s fast-growing wind energy market.

After a slow start, prospects in China are looking much brighter. At the Wind Power Asia conference held earlier this summer Beijing, Arthouros Zervos, chairman of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), said:

Only last year, the Chinese government set a target of 30 GW of wind energy by the year 2020. However, if the framework conditions are right, this figure will be exceeded by far.”

He said China’s new renewable energy law, based on the European model, had given wind a big boost (pdf). It requires power firms to generate at least 5% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and 10% by 2020. In addition, green energy sources enjoy favourable tariffs.

In anticipation of the new law, nearly 500 MW of new wind energy capacity were installed in 2005, more than double the 2004 figure. This brought China up to 1,260 MW of capacity, thereby passing the 1,000 MW mark which is often deemed critical for sustained market growth.

GWEC estimates that China could reach as much as 170 GW of installed wind power capacity by 2020, given the political will to realise wind energy’s potential in the country.

To date, the lion’s share of this lucrative market has gone to the west. The three biggest players, Gamesa, GE Wind Energy and Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems have all set up manufacturing facilities in China — Bejing requires 70% of turbine parts to be locally manufactured.

But western dominace may not last. India’s Suzlon Energy is also building facilities in China and, not to be left out, there are local players like Goldwind, China’s biggest wind energy company, which recently announced it was considering an IPO in the US.

Ecoworld has a good article on China wind power that lists key contacts.

Environmentalists have long argued that China needs to develop its renewable energy  options — not just wind but also hydroelectric, solar and geo-thermal — to combat chronic power shortages and pollution from the coal-buring power stations that produce 90% of China’s electricity.

The SO2 produced by burning coal poses a real threat to the health of China’s citizens, contributing to about 400,000 premature deaths a year, according to the New York Times.. It also causes acid rain that now affects one third of China’s landmass, according to an AP story.

This pollution has also crossed the Pacific. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on certain days nearly 25% of the particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China.

Some experts predict China could one day account for a third of all California’s air pollution.

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