The wind power market in Asia is normally quiet during summer, but this year is different. Recent policies and new developments in China and India have delivered a very strong signal that Asia`s two largest wind power markets are ready to pick up the pace again.
China’s wind industry has been constrained the past few years by power transmission bottlenecks and high wind-power curtailment rates. Figures released by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) in July, however, show that the situation is improving, especially since the ultra-high-voltage Hami-Zhengzhou transmission line was connected. In the first half of 2014, 6.32 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity has come online, up 31% from the same time in 2013, and the wind curtailment rate fell to 8.5%, 5.14% lower than the first 6 months of 2013. It won`t be a surprise if this year China surpasses the record of 18.9 GW of new capacity that it achieved in 2010.
Survival of the FITtest
Another positive sign for the Chinese wind industry is that the NEA released its long-awaited feed-in tariff (FIT) for offshore wind in June. Although the FIT is valid only for projects commissioned before 2017, and is not applicable for the four offshore projects included in the first offshore concession program, it provides certainty for near term investment.
According to Navigant Research’s annual wind power market report, World Market Update 2013, China will add 96 GW of new wind capacity over the next 5 years.
At the Offshore Wind China 2014 conference in Shanghai, many developers and turbine venders complained that the temporary FIT is too low and is not flexible to reflect differences in geographic location and wind resources. While those are valid claims, I personally believe that NEA has learned from the “blind” investment that Chinese onshore wind experienced in the past and is working deliberately to introduce a low FIT so that only developers who have strong technical, engineering, and financial background and a sound project pipeline can take the necessary risks. That’s the right way to minimize upfront risks and to secure a strong and stable offshore wind market in the long run. Currently, there are six offshore wind projects totalling 784 megawatts (MW) under construction in China and another six projects totalling 1,350 MW that have been approved and are ready to be built. It is likely that around 2,500 MW offshore wind capacity could be in operation by the end of 2016.
Restoration in India
In India, Asia`s second largest wind market, its Finance Minister has just announced the plan for the restoration of accelerated depreciation, an incentive was originally introduced back in 1990 but stopped in March 2012. This tax savings supported private-owned projects that account for the majority of wind project installations in India. At the historical rate of installation in India, AD is expected to create around 1,000 MW of wind power installations per year. If the depreciation holds up, Navigant Research`s forecast for India in 2014, of 2,500 MW, is certainly achievable.
In short, it’s expected that India and China combined will account for at least 40% of global wind power installation in the next 5 years – a great contribution to reducing carbon emissions worldwide. For a more detailed examination of the global wind power market, please join us for our webinar, “The State of the Global Wind Energy Industry,” on August 12 at 2 p.m. EDT. Click here to register.