China could replace coal with wind

Researchers from Harvard and Beijing Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.

The scientists came up with meteorological and financial forecasts that show that China can run on wind alone. They mapped the wind potential for different regions and then assumed that each had a smattering of 1.5 MW turbines. They excluded metro areas or unusable terrain. Once they calculated how much energy each area could generate, they then came up with the cost of the energy.

They discovered that many areas, especially northern and western parts of the country, could generate energy at about 6 - 8 cents/kWh. Assuming a guaranteed price of 0.516 RMB (7.6 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour for delivery of electricity to the grid over an agreed initial average period of 10 years, it is concluded that wind could accommodate all of the demand for electricity projected for 2030, about twice current consumption. Electricity available at a concession price as low as 0.4 RMB per kilowatt-hour would be sufficient to displace 23% of electricity generated from coal. This meant 6.96 trillion kWh could be generated annually at a profit, which is twice the current energy demand and close to what the demand is expected to be in 2030.

Since China is already installing wind at a rapid pace, the researchers think it's entirely possible that they could make these projections a reality. The major hurdle for the country would be upgrading and expanding their transmission system to handle new wind farms.
http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6255

Potential for Wind-Generated Electricity in China - Science 11 September 2009
by Michael B. McElroy, Xi Lu, Chris P. Nielsen and Yuxuan Wang
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/325/5946/1378.abstract

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