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FEATURE STORY: Ulanqab Wind Power Base, Inner Mongolia
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China’s first subsidy free
The World largest onshore series of Wind Farms
Ulanqab Wind Power Base, Inner Mongolia
By Bill Garner

The Ulanqab Wind Power Base will cover nearly 1500 square miles in Inner Mongolia

The Ulanqab Wind Power Base covers nearly 1,500 square miles in Inner Mongolia

China is the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gases, and has pledged to bring emissions to a peak by “around 2030”. Still a long way and hard work, but during this year China has taken several decisions to reduce the dependency of polluted sources. One of the most important is the Ulanqab Wind Power Base, which is the largest onshore series of wind farms in the world, with a capacity of delivering 18.9TWh a year to power the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.


BT 201909 FEATURE 03The ¥46.5 Billion Ulanqab Wind Power Base will cover 3,800km2 area, in SIziwangqi, Wulanchabu City, and has received preliminary approval for its construction according to China’s State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), which is the project’s investor and prime contractor.


SPIC expects to make significant headway at the end of 2020, in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Some China energy experts bemused that the timing is made even before Chinese authorities review the conditions for renewable energy development. As it is, SPIC plans to build without subsidy and only receive the market price of thermal power generation in Ulanqab. As it stands, power generated from the wind base will be paid at the same rate as that generated by coal.


Among Western wind turbine OEMs only Vestas GE and Siemens Gamesa are still trying to win market share in ChinaHowever, SPIC stands to benefit from the government’s move to support subsidy-free renewables, including 20-year power purchase agreements and the waiver of local content requirements and guaranteed grid connection.

The government measures are vital for renewable energy plants, since lack of grid capacity caused wind operators to curtail significant levels of wind energy, losing around ¥28.4 Billion in 2016. Chinese energy experts explained this as a matter of transition, since provincial grid operators have initially given preferential treatment to coal over renewables. Since 2016, Chinese government has delayed the development of new coal-fired plants and nuclear plants, signalling its commitment towards the renewable energy market.


BT 201909 FEATURE 02SPIC called for a competitive, zero-subsidy bid for the 6GW demonstrative first phase and has awarded the full project to local suppliers, leaving out western OEMs entirely. Shanghai Electric secured 1.4GW, Goldwind and Ming Yang Smart Energy each tool 1.3GW, while Dongfang Electric and CSIC Haizhuang picked up 1.1GW and 900 MW, respectively.


BT 201909 FEATURE 04Western OEMs Vestas, GE Renewable Energy and Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) were expected to have bid for a slice of the project, but missed out. The second largest Chinese OEM in 2018, Envision, was also missing from the final results.

西方原始设备制造商维斯塔斯(Vestas),通用电气可再生能源(GE Renewable Energy)和西门子 - 奥尔塔可再生能源(Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy)(SGRE)预计将竞标该项目,但最终没有参与。2018年第二大中国原始设备制造商Envision也在最终结果中消失。

The absence of Western OEMs in the world’s largest wind farm brings up many questions on how they could grow their presence in China’s wind power market, or whether they are in terminal decline in the country. Vestas, GE and Siemens-Gamesa are now the only three non-Chinese manufacturers vying for market share in China, while several others have quit for various reasons. The combined market shares in China for these three majors fell to just 5 percent in 2018. Vestas gained 2.9 percent market share, the highest of the foreign OEMs. China is the world’s single largest market with 20.1 gigawatts of newly installed capacity in 2018.

Speaking at a recent conference, Haiyan Qin, the secretary general of the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA), said the fact the project is China’s first subsidy free means the developer was conscious of equipment costs.

China has turned to renewables to cut its reliance on coal and fight against pollution. The nation has subsidized clean power plants for years, but is shifting toward a more market-driven approach to rein in its large subsidy bills that resulted from a green investment boom.


BT 201909 FEATURE 05The National Energy Administration (NEA) unveiled a policy to prioritize approval of subsidy-free wind and solar projects for construction, while the rest could seek construction permits by competing on price in provincial allocation. It has also announced policies to boost clean energy use, including setting mandatory consumption targets and giving priority grid access to subsidy-free plants. The switch aims to reduce the country’s devastating renewable subsidy backlog, lately rising to 110bn yuan ($15.9bn) according to NEA officials.


BT 201909 FEATURE 06These six regions will build about 60% of China's first batch of subsidy-free plants

Despite subsidy cuts which dramatically stalled the growth of solar installations, China retained the global distinction as the most attractive renewable energy market in 2019, according to the EY’s latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) report.

By the end of 2018, China accounted for 35% of global solar capacity, with 172GW, and 32% of total wind capacity, with 181GW.

BT 201909 FEATURE 08The Chinese wind market is expected to install 237 gigawatts of new capacity by 2028, an increase of 130% of actual capacity, making it the largest market globally with many opportunities ahead. The whole value chain, from project development to turbine supply, and from engineering, procurement and construction to operations and maintenance, will mature in the long term. Given the existing policy conditions and competitive landscape, Western players will be increasingly challenged to gain market share against local competitors.

根据安永最新的可再生能源国家吸引力指数(RECAI)报告,尽管削减补贴大大阻碍了太阳能装置的增长,但中国在2019年仍然是全球最具吸引力的可再生能源市场。中国风电市场预计到2028年将新增237千兆瓦的新增产能,增加130%的实际产能,使其成为全球最大的市场,前景广阔。 鉴于现有的政策条件和竞争格局,西方参与者将越来越多地面临争夺当地竞争对手市场份额的挑战。

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