China cuts forecast for offshore wind power by 60 per cent

China slashed its forecasts for offshore wind power by 60 per cent, an acknowledgment that installations are being held up by the cost and complexity of the technology.

The nation is expected to install about 2,000 megawatts of capacity by 2015 and 10,000 megawatts by 2020, the National Energy Administration estimates. That’s less than the ambition in 2011 to generate 5,000 megawatts of power from offshore turbines by 2015 and 30,000 megawatts by 2020, enough for 32 million homes.

The estimates if they hold true would mark the first time China has missed one of its goals for renewable energy and is a setback for the $15 billion industry, which is seeking to produce a clean supply of electricity from one of nature’s most reliable energy sources.

The estimates are preliminary, Li Peng, an official from the NEA’s new energy department, said today in a conference in Beijing. “The pace and scale of offshore wind are full of changes,” he said.

China is “more cautious” on offshore wind than it was on solar and onshore wind because “it’s more risky and costly,’ Shi Pengfei, honorary chairman of the Chinese Wind Energy Association, said in July.

German power-equipment maker Siemens AG, along with Chinese competitors Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co and Sinovel Wind Group Co, have the most at stake since they’re the top turbine suppliers for China’s offshore projects.

There was 429 megawatts of offshore wind power operating in China at the end of 2013. The country may install about 500 megawatts of offshore capacity next year and 1,000 megawatts in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Worldwide, about 2,570 megawatts are expected to be installed this year, worth about $15 billion. That total may grow to 7,560 megawatts in 2020, according to the London-based researcher.

Offshore turbines represents a fraction of the 90 gigawatts of land-based wind turbines due to be connected to China’s power grid by the end of this year, the biggest concentration of the technology in the world.

China is moving slowly with offshore wind after its onshore wind industry expanded so quickly that the power infrastructure couldn’t keep up. As much as 12 per cent of its onshore wind turbines weren’t connected to the grid in 2013. Another 11 percent of the turbines had grid connections and were idled because transmission lines couldn’t handle all the output.

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