Wind energy capacity in China is going unused because of a growing problem with grid connections, according to the country's State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC).
SERC has published a report showing that wind farms in China are only contributing around half of what they should be to the country's energy mix because of insufficient transmission capabilities and grid connections.
The problem has largely been caused by the recent rapid growth in wind energy in China coupled with the extensive power grid upgrades that are needed to transmit wind energy to consumers.
China recently surpassed the USA as the world's largest wind energy market by installed capacity. However, SERC says that 2.8 TWh of wind energy went unused in the first half of 2010 because of the lack of transmission capability.
China's wind power resources are largely concentrated in the northwest of the country and need to be transmitted to consumption centres along its coast. State Grid, China's largest power transmission company, invested 20 billion yuan in ultra-high voltage transmission lines from 2006 to 2010.
The company is planning to spend more than 500 billion yuan to carry out grid upgrades in the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015).
China's installed wind power capacity stands at around 42 GW, compared with just over 40 GW in the USA. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association says that grid-connected wind capacity lags behind installed capacity by around 30 per cent.
SERC's report says that places with abundant wind power resources, such as the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, account for 75 per cent of the unconnected wind power capacity in the country.
The problem has made wind-power operators such as China Wind Power Corp switch to other regions in China that have a better electricity network though inferior wind power resources.
China plans to get 15 per cent of its energy from non fossil fuels by 2020, with wind power expected to contribute two per cent and solar one per cent.
On-grid power generated by wind and solar facilities accounted for 0.7 per cent of total power generation in the first half of 2010, SERC says.