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August, 2013:

New coal-fired power stations in Guangdong ‘will kill thousands’

Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 12:00am



Cheung Chi-fai and Jing Li

Residents in Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta at risk from power stations

Emissions from new coal-fired power stations planned in Guangdong could cause as many as 16,000 deaths in the next 40 years, research by an air-pollution specialist indicates.

The “shocking” findings have brought a call for the province to wind back plans for the 22 additional stations and return to a 2009 policy of no new coal-fired plants in the Pearl River Delta.

The estimates were made by Dr Andrew Gray, an American private air quality consultant commissioned by Greenpeace to study the health impact of the new plants’ emissions of fine particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometres. The extra deaths would add to an already heavy health toll – put at 3,600 deaths and 4,000 cases of child asthma in 2011 alone – from the 96 coal-fired plants already in operation in the province and Hong Kong.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Zhou Rong said: “The cumulative impact of these new plants on human health is simply shocking.

“The Pearl River Delta [PRD] region should strictly enforce the policy of no more new coal-fired power plants in the PRD published in 2009. Guangdong has ignored its earlier pledge to ban new coal-fired power plants in order to feed its hunger for energy.”

Some online comments on the mainland described Greenpeace’s proposal to scale back the plants as partial and unrealistic.

“So shall Guangdong build more large-scale nuke plants or shall it transport more electricity from the country’s southwest?” Yu Yang , a student at Stanford University who researches on environment policy, wrote on his microblog.

For his study, Gray used the CALPUFF computer model, endorsed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for trans-boundary air pollution, as well as emission data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and power companies.

The health impact estimates were also based on a model developed by the World Health Organisation on mortality risks from human exposure to fine particles.

Half of the additional power stations, with a total capacity of 26,000 megawatts, are under construction and the rest are in the planning stage.

Of the predicted 16,000 premature deaths in the next four decades, two-thirds would be related to strokes, the report said. The rest would be from lung cancer and heart disease.

It said the pollution would also lead to 15,000 new cases of child asthma and 19,000 of chronic bronchitis.

Most new deaths and child asthma cases would be in the delta region, with 1,700 and 1,300 respectively in Hong Kong.

Zhou said Guangdong, as the most economically powerful province, could have made a bold decision to cap coal use, and harness more renewable energy.

The projection was released weeks after reports that Shenzhen had suspended a planned coal-fired power plant after public opposition, she said.

The Environmental Protection Department said Hong Kong had banned new coal-fired plants since 1997 and imposed emission caps on power plants. A spokesman said the city had also agreed with Guangdong on goals to reduce emissions for 2015 and 2020.

Simon Ng Ka-wing , an energy researcher with think tank Civic Exchange, said the method adopted by Gray was in common use but called for him to disclose more of the assumptions behind the study.

Ng also said the choice of fuel mix was a complicated balance to strike. “Ideally, coal use should be capped given its footprint on air quality … but whether it could be enforced is a challenge,” he said.

Instead of coal, more expensive gas could be harnessed, but its supplies were more limited. Another option was nuclear, but this carried safety concerns.

Greenpeace has been campaigning worldwide to eliminate nuclear power, citing environmental and safety concerns.

Yu Yang added that hydroelectricity from China’s southwest could be more polluting or damaging to local ecology. “When targeting a polluting industry, an environmental organisation should also consider the alternative solution and its corresponding environmental price,” he wrote.

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Waste Gasification to Biofuel Project to Mine Landfill in Maryland

Waste Gasification to Biofuel Project to Mine Landfill in Maryland

20 August 2013

By Ben Messenger
Managing Editor County, Maryland is pursuing a project that will develop a refused derived fuel (RDF) facility to process municipal solid waste, followed by a waste gasification facility that will produce biofuels. Mining previously landfilled waste for additional feedstock is also being considered.

To realise the project the County has partnered with waste gasification specialist, America First Inc (AFI), in a revenue sharing public/private partnership.

Waste Gasification to Biofuel Project to Mine Landfill in MarylandAccording to the County, the project will provide an economic development tool to attract companies looking for a sustainable community with zero waste opportunities.


The initiative will be implemented in two phases. Phase I, which will commence six to eight months after ground breaking, will consist of the construction of a facility to convert MSW (including yard, agriculture and sewer sludge waste) into RDF. MSW is delivered to the facility and then sorted and separated to remove all non – treatable items. The residual waste will be converted into RDF pellets which will be sold to various customers as fuel.

Phase II Phase II consists of the construction of a full – scale gasification plant.

The County said that approximately 10% of the RDF pellets produced during Phase I will feed a Fischer – Tropsch synthetic fuel production plant to convert the high – energy syngas from the gasification plant into transportation fuels (gasoline or diesel fuel).

Additionally, the existing landfill will be mined to recover buried MSW.

According to the County mining of existing MSW will extend the current landfill capacity far beyond the estimated 100 years it can currently provide.

The waste to energy process is expected to divert up to 95% of the area’s MSW from landfill, and according to the County will also reduce the odour, birds, and noises normally associated with landfill operations.


Under the partnership Washington County will provide the land and the municipal waste feedstock, but will bear no upfront financial risk.

The County explained that since AFI will secure funding required to complete the project based on a long-term feedstock agreement, and will be the sole signatory on the loan, and that it bears no fiscal responsibility for either construction of the project or operational expenses.

Payments are deferred for two years, which the County said will allow a substantial reserve to be created up front.

Under Phase I, full production of RDF is anticipated to take place between six to eight months after ground breaking.

Using today’s market value for RDF pellets, Washington County said that its estimated share of net profits from the sale of RDF would be in excess of $50,000 per month.

Under Phase II, which will commence between 12 and 18 months after ground breaking, fuel production is expected to begin within 90 days of commissioning.

The County said that its estimated share of net profits would be in excess of $200,000 from the sale of renewable diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, home heating fuel, Naphtha (used to make high – octane fuels) and nitrogen fertilisers.

The completion of both project phases is also expected to create approximately 40 – 70 new jobs


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Coal Combustion Residuals – Proposed Rule

Coal Combustion Residuals – Proposed Rule

CCR Rule

· Notice of Data Availability 2011

· Public Hearings

· Proposed Rule

· Frequent Questions

· Key Differences Between Subtitle C and Subtitle D Options

· Webinar Information

Related Links

· Coal Combustion Residuals

* Information Request Responses from Electric Utilities

* Impoundment Assessment Reports

* Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings

* Frequent Questions

· Coal Combustion Products

Coal Combustion Residuals, often referred to as coal ash, are currently considered exempt wastes under an amendment to RCRA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. They are residues from the combustion of coal in power plants and captured by pollution control technologies, like scrubbers. Potential environmental concerns from coal ash pertain to pollution from impoundment and landfills leaching into ground water and structural failures of impoundments, like that which occurred at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plant in Kingston, Tennessee. The need for national management criteria was emphasized by the December 2008 spill of CCRs from a surface impoundment near Kingston, TN. The tragic spill flooded more than 300 acres of land with CCRs and flowed into the Emory and Clinch rivers.

EPA is proposing to regulate for the first time coal ash to address the risks from the disposal of the wastes generated by electric utilities and independent power producers. EPA is considering two possible options for the management of coal ash for public comment. Both options fall under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Under the first proposal, EPA would list these residuals as special wastes subject to regulation under subtitle C of RCRA, when destined for disposal in landfills or surface impoundments. Under the second proposal, EPA would regulate coal ash under subtitle D of RCRA, the section for non-hazardous wastes. The Agency considers each proposal to have its advantages and disadvantages, and includes benefits which should be considered in the public comment period.

Coal Combustion Residuals – Proposed Rule – June 21, 2010

The support materials for this proposed rule and the public comments EPA received on the proposal are available for public review online at

To use In the Keyword or ID Search box, type in the docket number EPA–HQ–RCRA–2009–0640 and press “Enter” on your keyboard, or “Search” on the web page to receive search results.

Federal Registers

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s PDF page to learn more.

Notice of Data Availability (NODA) – August 2, 2013

EPA is inviting comments on additional information obtained by EPA in conjunction with the June 21, 2010 proposed CCR rule. EPA is only requesting comment on the information presented or described in this NODA and is not reopening any aspect of the proposed rule or the underlying support documents that were previously available for comment.

The information on which EPA is seeking comment is categorized as:

1. Additional data to supplement the Regulatory Impact Analysis and risk assessment;

2. Information on large scale fill; and

3. Data on the surface impoundment structural integrity assessments.

EPA is also seeking comment on two specific issues associated with the technical requirements for CCR management units:

1. The feasibility of complying with the Agency’s proposed time frames for closing surface impoundments in the subtitle D option; and

2. How the technical requirements relate to units constructed on top of closed surface impoundments or landfills (i.e., “overfills”).

Note: On pages 46942 and 46944 of the August 2, 2013 Federal Register notice, there is a typo; this is the correct link to the Structural Integrity Surface Impoundment Assessments.

Frequent Questions

To review the notice and supporting materials online and submit comments visit Comments must be received on or before September 3, 2013.

To use In the Keyword or ID Search box, type in the docket number EPA-HQ-RCRA-2012-0028.

Notice of Data Availability (NODA) – October 12, 2011

This NODA announced and invited comment on additional information obtained by EPA in conjunction with the June 21, 2010 proposed rule. This additional information is generally categorized as follows:

1. Chemical constituent data from coal combustion residuals;

2. Facility and waste management unit data;

3. Information on additional alleged damage cases;

4. Adequacy of State programs; and

5. Beneficial Use.

The comment period closed on November 14, 2011. These materials and the comments received can be found in the docket.

Notice of Data Availability on Coal Combustion Residual Surface Impoundments – October 21, 2010

Notice of Data Availability on Coal Combustion Residual Surface Impoundments on the proposed rulemaking on the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities (75 FR 35128).

This information has been posted on EPA’s website for several months as part of our overall efforts to assess the structural integrity of surface impoundments and other units containing wet-handled CCRs. This information consists of responses to information requests that EPA sent to electric utilities on their coal combustion residual (CCR) surface impoundments as well as reports and materials related to the site assessments that EPA conducted on a subset of these CCR impoundments. The information is available in the docket via PDF files with permanent links to the underlying documents, helping to consolidate and make it easier for the public to search and access the information.

Coal Combustion Residuals Technical Corrections Notice – August 20, 2010

The notice has five main actions:

1. Extension of the public comment period from September 20 to November 19, 2010. This 60 day extension is in response to numerous requests to extend the comment period.

2. Technical corrections to the proposed rule. The proposed rule as published in the Federal Register on June 21, 2010 had several inadvertent administrative errors, which could cause confusion if not corrected.

3. Notice that additional support documents have been placed in the rulemaking docket for public inspection. This includes documents referenced in the proposed rule, but previously found on EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals Partnership website. The docket provides the date on which documents have been added, making the new materials easy to identify.

4. Two additional Public Hearings. Given the significant public interest in the proposal and to further public participation opportunities, on August 6, 2010, EPA announced on its website that it would hold hearings in Pittsburgh, PA on September 21, 2010, and in Louisville, KY, on September 28, 2010 in addition to 5 public hearings already scheduled. Details on all the public hearings can be found on EPA’s website.

5. One additional webinar: On August 6, EPA announced on its website that it would conduct another webinar. Currently, the Agency has held education webinars on August 5 and August 12. Additional webinar date, scope, and format.

Announcement of Public Hearings – July 15, 2010

Notice: In response to numerous requests, EPA announced that it scheduled two additional public hearings and one additional webinar on the Coal Combustion Residuals Proposed Rule. The public hearings were held in Pittsburgh, PA on September 21, 2010 and in Louisville, KY on September 28, 2010.

Coal Ash

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Trash Into Gas Efficiently_ An Army Test May Tell – NYTimes.pdf

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The future China chooses will dictate the future of the planet

The future China chooses will dictate the future of the planet

China is the largest contributor to global warming and also the biggest investor in renewables. The future it chooses will affect us all, writes Georg Kell


Because of its size and enromous growth, China is the world’s largest contributor to global warming, as well as the biggest investor in renewables. Photograph: Tim Graham/Tim Graham/Getty Images

The call by the Chinese government for an “ecological civilisation” which aims to control pollution and greenhouse gas emissions may sound like just another party slogan to the casual observer from outside the country.

But there is little doubt that China is serious about changing course. Environmental concerns have become a national priority, and business will play its part.

Recently I joined enterprises belonging to the Global Compact Network China at a summit they convened on Caring for Climate. In collaboration with various business and civil society associations, they pledged to do their part for the environment. Commitments were issued to implement restrictions on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and to undertake specific measures collectively. Some firms had already stepped forward with concrete campaigns, such as Sinopec’s “blue sky – clean water” initiative.

The presence of high-level government officials from various departments left little doubt that these initiatives are serious, and that a profound change of course is underway. The commitments signed at the summit will also be submitted to Chinese authorities at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit this September, and to the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November.

A number of pressures feed into the gravity with which both business and government, from their respective standpoints, regard the linked issues of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

In terms of the economy, Chinese government reports consistently place the cost of pollution as more than 3% of GDP. The World Bank has estimated the negative impact of pollution combined with resource depletion at close to 10% of GDP.

In terms of the wellbeing of the population, air pollution is widely recognised as a serious health as well as quality of life issue, one that may be taking years away from the life expectancy of city dwellers. It also discourages domestic enterprises as well as foreign investors from setting up headquarters or operation centres in Chinese cities. Other types of pollution, such as runoff from industrial or chemical plants, are now also being recognised as threats to rural areas and farming, as well as to urban domains. The safety and quality of food grown in China has also become a serious concern of the Chinese population.

Responding to the Global Compact about corporate sustainability priorities in the decades that follow the conclusion of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, firms from the China Network firms prominently cited climate change and the urgent need to follow a “green” development path that places a premium on high efficiency of energy use, low pollution and low emissions. Several corporate leaders remarked that they saw poor air quality as tantamount to a human rights issue.

Because of its size and remarkable growth over the past two decades, China is already the world’s largest contributor to global warming – though on a per capita basis, CO2 emissions are still around half the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average. As several hundred million people have yet to be integrated into a modern way of life, energy demand and environmental issues are bound to grow in tandem.

Deploying the latest technologies and improving energy efficiency across all economic activities are likely to remain at a priority level for years to come. Equally important will be the use of renewables and whatever other innovations may lead to a low-carbon economy.

Already China is by far the biggest investor in renewables, and several pilot projects for carbon exchanges are under construction. A national carbon market, or a resource tax system favouring green investment, is a distinct possibility within the near future. China’s vulnerable ecology and dependence on energy imports both make such moves likely.

The daunting challenges are clearly understood by China’s leadership, and business has heard the call. Whether or not China will succeed in becoming a world leader in low-carbon market development is of fundamental importance for the whole planet. Well on its way to become the world’s largest economy, the future of China and the future of the globe now are intimately linked. If China succeeds, the world’s chances go up accordingly.

Georg Kell is executive director of United Nations Global Compact

China to invest in energy saving industries to tackle pollution

China to invest in energy saving industries to tackle pollution

China’s State Council announces plans to make green industries central to the economy by 2015

Solar panel farm

China is to invest in energy saving technologies including solar energy in an attempt to tackle pollution. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA

China is to fast-track expansion and investment in energy saving technologies in an attempt to tackle its worsening pollution problems.

China’s cabinet, the State Council announced plans on Sunday to make the energy saving sector a “pillar” of the economy by 2015. In a statement the council said that under the new plan the environmental protection sector will grow by 15% on average annually, reaching an output of 4.5 trillion yuan (£474 billion).

China’s massive economic growth has come at a major cost to its environment and even its environmental ministry has described the country’s environmental situation as “grim”.

Under the plan, environmental protection industries will receive funding from the government in an effort to stimulate technological innovation. The funding will cover a wide range of technologies that address air, water and soil pollution including energy saving products, waste disposal, electric vehicles and pollution monitoring.

Many analysts welcomed the plan and some were quoted in the Chinese media as saying that it will create opportunities for investors and will give direction to the industry.

“It’s good to see this and it’s an indication that development of environmental protection and energy saving industry is a priority, since it’s coming from the State Council,” said Alvin Lin, China Climate and Energy Policy Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Beijing. The plan also includes policies, standards, pilot programmes, financing mechanisms and incentives, emissions and carbon trading said Lin.

However Lin believes that the plan is “vulnerable to being so broad as to be lacking focus and hard to implement.

“I think it could discuss more on the importance of implementing standards and policies in order to create the demand for the energy saving and environmental protection market, and the importance of accurate measurement and public reporting to ensure standards are met,” he said.

Ailun Yang, a senior associate with the World Resources Institute, said the initiative is “encouraging”. “It shows the ambition of the Chinese government to tackle its growing environmental problems while making the country the world’s biggest manufacturer of the environmental protection technologies.” She added however that more details need to be known before it is possible to assess the effectiveness of the new plan.

Tackling pollution has been a priority of the new administration under Xi Jinping, especially as pollution has become a major concern among Chinese citizens and is one of the main causes of social unrest. In an effort to tackle the problem, China has also committed to reducing its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels and is aiming to increase renewable energy to 15% of its total energy consumption.

“Going forward, I think it would be important to develop a yearly inventory of various energy saving and emissions reduction products and services to get a more accurate idea of the growing size of the industry and the economic value and green jobs created, to demonstrate the economic benefits of improving the environment,” said Lin.

The announcement that funding will be available to environmental protection industries may help China’s ailing solar industry. In recent years the Chinese solar industry has been struggling with overcapacity, international trade disputes and slowing global demand.

“The problem with the solar industry is that China didn’t have a strong domestic market while the manufacturing capacity of the Chinese solar industry was overwhelming,” said Yang. The new plan should prioritise creating an “enabling environment and support the development of domestic market,” she said.

Trash talking

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Blowing in the wind

Wednesday, 14 March, 2007, 12:00am

Beijing sees vast potential in the power of wind to help it meet power needs, but the cost of tapping it is another matter, writes Tom Miller

When Premier Wen Jiabao called for the development of ‘environmentally friendly technologies’ and ‘clean production’ in his work report last week, he might have been talking about Dongshan Island.

Perched on the southern coast of Fujian , overlooking the Taiwan Strait, Dongshan is the mainland’s favourite spot for staging mock invasions across the water. But the island is also the perfect place for harnessing one of the country’s greatest and most underused natural resources: wind.

At the end of a rutted dirt track surrounded by rows of green crops hand-tended by farmers in conical hats, 15 sleek white towers are planted firmly in the sand above the beach. The rhythmic swoosh from the turbine blades, now powering the light bulbs and televisions in local farmers’ homes, is barely audible above the waves crashing on the shore below.

Dongshan wind farm is the coal-free cutting edge of China’s power industry. The country may no longer be the sick man of Asia but it’s the filthiest: it burns more coal than any other nation, and relies on the fuel for about 70 per cent of its energy needs.

In 2005, China burned more than 1.2 billion tonnes of coal and emitted more carbon dioxide than the whole of Europe. As the mainland’s cheapest and most secure energy resource, coal will remain the nation’s primary electricity-generating source for the foreseeable future.

China’s leadership knows, however, that its present energy model is unsustainable and – despite the struggle to enforce environmental policies and energy efficiency targets at the local level – the central government is doing more than many other countries to promote green energy sources.

The Renewable Energy Law, for example, was one of the most comprehensive pieces of renewable energy legislation to be passed anywhere in the world, said Jan Hamrin, executive director of the Centre for Resource Solutions in Washington, DC.

The law, which came into effect on January 1 last year, sets out a legally binding development plan for promoting green energy and encourages the construction of renewable power facilities across the country. It mandates power grid operators to purchase all electricity generated from renewable sources, with the extra cost to be spread evenly among consumers.

Beijing’s target is that 16 per cent of primary energy should come from renewable sources by 2020, up from 6 per cent today, with spending on alternative energy set to top 1.5 trillion yuan. Most of the electricity produced by renewable sources will come from hydro, biomass and wind – but the fastest- growing is wind power.

China’s wind energy potential is huge. The China Academy of Meteorological Sciences estimates the country possesses a total of 235 gigawatts of practical onshore wind power potential. Offshore potential – much more expensive to harness – is estimated at 750 gigawatts.

In theory, China could meet its entire projected electricity demand for 2020 from wind. Wind resources are concentrated along the east coast – from Liaoning in the north to Guangdong in the south – and across the northern grasslands and Gobi desert, from Inner Mongolia to Xinjiang .

At the end of last year China had 1.6 gigawatts of installed capacity – twice 2005’s figure – ranking fifth globally. By 2020, China plans to increase capacity to 30 gigawatts, which may place it first in the world.

‘The government’s target might even be exceeded,’ said Lars Andersen, managing director of Vestas China, the local subsidiary of Danish wind equipment-maker Vestas Wind System, which supplies the turbines on Dongshan Island. ‘The political will means it is very likely to happen.’

But wind power has one major problem: the exorbitant cost of power generation. At 0.5-0.6 yuan per kilowatt hour, real costs are roughly twice those of electricity produced in a conventional coal-fired power plant.

Moreover, wind farms are not as reliable as traditional power plants. Vestas’ turbines need a wind speed of 4 metres per second to produce power, and 15 metres per second to reach maximum output of two megawatts. The Dongshan turbines are active for roughly 35 per cent of the year, which is considered good for an onshore site.

In an effort to make wind power economically competitive with conventional sources, the government launched a project in 2004 to encourage developers to build large-capacity wind farms that achieve economies of scale. The ‘wind concession’ system, planners hope, will make wind power a commercially viable technology.

Under the concession system, all projects with a capacity of 100 megawatts undergo a competitive tendering process in which potential developers bid to sell electricity from the project at the lowest price. The winner signs a fixed, long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with the local power grid.

The advantages of the concession system for the developers are that they know precisely what price they will get for their electricity, thus minimising risk in recovering investment costs.

The rub of the system, however, is that competitive bidding forces developers to price electricity unrealistically low, sometimes barely above the cost of production. Since competitive bidding was introduced, the average tariff has nearly halved.

Average internal rates of return on wind power projects are between 6 per cent and 9 per cent, well below the 12 per cent profit generally required by foreign investors. The upshot is that experienced foreign developers do not bother to submit bids.

In the past few years, competition in the sector has pushed wind electricity tariffs down to barely viable levels – though the cost of buying the electricity still remains high compared to energy generated by burning coal.

There is evidence that developers are bidding aggressively for projects with a view to selling carbon credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism.

JP Morgan analysts Edmond Lee and Boris Kan say that some wind developers are betting on carbon trading to make the industry more profitable in the long term.

Depending on the price of carbon, they say, selling carbon credits may more than double current rates of return. ‘It’s a new industry and many power operators are happy to pay a high price for an entry ticket, even if that behaviour may look irrational,’ said Mr Lee. ‘Carbon credits are one of the reasons why operators are willing to go in at such low tariff levels. Without carbon credits there are a number of wind projects that would be even less profitable than they are today.’

At present 20 Chinese wind farms have been approved by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism executive board to sell carbon credits on the international market, which is based in London.

Most wind power developers, however, are subsidiaries of large state-owned utilities that can afford to lose money if it means gaining access to the wind market. Vestas’ partner at Dongshan, for example, is Longyuan Power, a subsidiary of state power giant China Guodian.

Wang Wanxing, programme officer for electric utilities and renewable energy at the Energy Foundation, a US non-government organisation, said market access was a key consideration for the big utilities, which will be required to buy 5 per cent of their total output from renewable energy sources by 2010, rising to 10 per cent by 2020.

From the government’s short-term perspective, the concession system is a success because wind energy is growing both quickly and cheaply. But some industry experts argue that competitive bidding is not conducive to the healthy development of wind power in the longer term. ‘It would be helpful for the wind industry to have a defined and rational wind tariff structure that would reward technology developers and investors alike,’ said Alan Sides, Asia manager for GE Energy.

In theory, large concession projects requiring many big turbines should be a boon for foreign makers. In 2005, 90 per cent of China’s large-capacity wind turbine generators had to be imported. Yet meagre profits mean that few wind farm developers want to pay for expensive foreign technology. Vestas supplies turbines to just one concession project: ‘We felt we couldn’t be competitive in the bidding for concession projects,’ said Mr Andersen.

Domestic manufacturers, moreover, are beginning to catch up. Although the top Chinese wind turbine maker, Goldwind Technology, only manufactures 600 and 750 kilowatt turbines – much smaller than Vestas’ two-megawatt turbines on Dongshan Island – it has plans to introduce a new generation of much larger turbines.

The government’s requirement that 70 per cent of wind power equipment must be manufactured domestically has also boosted the fortunes of domestic turbine makers. Goldwind’s market share shot up from 20 per cent in 2005 to 33 per cent last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

‘Local manufacturers are much cheaper than we are, and some do a good job, but we are not competing on price only. Fortunately, the market is so big that there is room for both local and international players,’ said Vestas’ Mr Andersen.

But other market watchers are less optimistic about the outlook for foreign turbine manufacturers. ‘There’s going to be a race to the bottom,’ said Stephen Terry of Azure International, a Beijing-based investment firm that specialises in renewable technologies.

‘A lot of people will lose money making turbines in China, just as they did in the auto industry and every other industry in China.’









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