The Chinese government isn’t building any new wind turbines because most of the new electricity created was wasted, causing serious damage to the country’s electrical grid.
The government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions earlier this month, according to a China’s National Energy Administration statement. These regions previously installed nearly 71 gigawatts of wind turbines, more than the rest of China combined. A single gigawatt of electricity is enough to power 700,000 homes. Government statistics show that 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-power, or about 15 percent of all Chinese wind power, was wasted in 2015 alone.
“Even though China will not approve new projects, the scale of existing wind power installations is huge, leaving the grid struggling to cope with it,” Xie Guohui, an analyst at a Chinese think tank, told the environmental blog InsideClimate News Monday. “In the best-case scenario, this policy will help China’s wind power curtailment maintain the same level as it was last year.”
The amount of electricity generated by a wind turbine is very intermittent and doesn’t coincide with the times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids vastly more fragile.