This paper presents a novel strategy for developing wind power in large-scale (multi-GW) wind farms in China. It involves combining oversized wind farms, large-scale electrical storage and long-distance transmission lines to deliver ‘baseload wind power’ to distant electricity demand centers. Baseload wind power is typically more valuable to the electric utility than intermittent wind power, so that storage can be economically attractive even in instances where the cost per kWh is somewhat higher than without storage.
The prospective costs for this approach to developing wind power are illustrated by modifying an oversized wind farm at Huitengxile, Inner Mongolia. The site has an average power density of 580 W/m2 at 50 m hub heights and is located 500 km north of Beijing. Using locally mass-produced wind turbines there are good prospects that wind power would be cost-competitive with coal power, on a lifecycle cost basis, while providing substantial net environmental benefits.
Finally, the institutional challenges related to the prospect of large-scale wind energy development are addressed. Especially important are policies aimed at developing the capacity for mass production of as much of this technology in China as is feasible. Promising instruments for speeding up the introduction of this technology include: (i) international joint ventures between foreign vendors and developers and Chinese manufacturers; and (ii) wind resource development concessions.