Renewable energy resources are bound to play a larger and larger role in China's energy mix as the world's second largest economy – and largest emitter of greenhouse gases – strives to reduce pollution and forge a healthier, more sustainable economy and society. Renewable energy technology also is playing a growing role in driving growth among U.S. industrial companies – blue-chips as well as fast-growing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
On Jan. 26, General Electric announced that China's Huaneng Corp. will install 55 of its GE 2.7-120 Brilliant wind turbines – 151 megawatts worth – at its Huaneng Dali Longquan wind farm in southwestern Yunnan province. The deal, which includes a two-year operations and maintenance service agreement, marks GE's largest wind turbine order in China to date.
More than 16 gigawatts of wind power capacity was installed in China in 2013. That represented 45 percent of the worldwide total, according to Global Wind Energy Council statistics. Globally, wind, solar and other emissions-free energy resources will prevent 3,800 million tons of CO2 emissions per year out to 2030, the council highlighted in a press released issued during the United Nations' latest climate treaty negotiations, which took place in Lima, Peru in December.
Improving air quality by reducing carbon and GHG emissions has become a priority for China's central government as environmental pollution continues to take a heavy toll on the country's people, environment and economy. Amid efforts to enforce stricter controls on pollution, the Chinese government shut down 375 factories by late October 2014.
China's central government aims to see wind power capacity increase to 150 GWs by year-end 2017, part and parcel of a broad-based effort to meet at least 15 percent of overall energy output from renewable resources by 2020, GE highlights in a press release. “China has huge potential for wind energy, and we are excited to help customers like Huaneng expand their renewable energy presence,” Anne McEntee, president and CEO of GE’s renewable energy business, was quoted as saying.
“Our goal is to invest in the kind of renewable technology that will bring high-quality, reliable power to the region for many years to come, and the 2.75-120 is a great example of exactly that.”
Brilliant wind turbines, such as the 2.75-120s that are to be installed at the Huaneng Dali Longquan wind farm in Yunnan, harness the power of the “industrial Internet to analyze tens of thousands of data points every second, driving higher output, improving services productivity and creating new revenue streams for customers,” GE highlights. Developed and tested at GE's wind turbine testing facility in the Tehachapi Mountains east of Los Angeles, Brilliant wind power systems with integrated utility-scale battery storage have also been built.
Taken together, all the technological advances and incremental improvements GE and other wind energy industry participants have made over the years have come together and driven the cost of wind energy down 60 percent. Wind-generated electricity can now be integrated onto the California grid at an unsubsidized cost of 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) -- right in line, if not cheaper, than coal-fired power generation, Keith Longtin, general manager of Wind Products for GE Power & Water, stated in an interview.
*Images credit: 1) GE; 2,3) GE, A. Burger
An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.