China continues to roll out wind
farm installations worldwide at an unprecedented rate. In a year ravaged by the
Covid-19 pandemic, the globe’s second-largest economy accounted for more than
half of 2020’s total installations.
The significant increase in wind farm installations in 2020 comes after Chinese President, Xi Jinping said China would become a carbon-neutral nation by 2060, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September last year.
China accounted for 100GW of new installations, according to a report in Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance. This is a 60% increase year-on-year and is enough energy to light the homes of United Kingdom residents three times over.
Offshore wind farm installations dropped by 20% last year, while onshore installations made up the vast majority of new capacity in the same period.
The world at large has been
investing heavily into green infrastructure, but China’s 58GW increase year-on-year
in 2020 is still more than the rest of the world combined and the massive
growth in the market should be attributed to China, said Isabelle Edwards,
co-author of the Bloomberg report.
Chinese wind turbine firm, Xinjiang Goldwind, surpassed Danish turbine firm, Vestas, to join American firm, GE, as top turbine manufacturers worldwide.
Africa also stands to win with wind
South Africa has massive potential to generate a significant proportion of clean, offshore energy, according to academics at the University of Stellenbosch. Gordan Rae and Dr Gareth Erfort, both from the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University, say strategically located offshore wind farms in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape could supply up to 800% of South Africa’s energy requirements.
The pair say that offshore wind energy has the production potential of 44.53 tera-watt hours (TWh) in shallow waters and 2 387.08 TWh in deeper waters. Eskom reports that the average South African household uses 30KWh per day. This means that shallow water wind farms alone could provide electricity to four million households a year.
Erfort and Rae point out that South Africa’s coal power fleet is ageing and will be decommissioned over three decades. Government officials should take the opportunity to explore offshore and onshore wind energy to increase the nation’s failing power security as well as decarbonise South Africa’s energy output, they say.