In another win for clean energy, wind has just overtaken nuclear power as an electricity source in China. Wind farms generated 2% more electricity than nuclear plants did in 2012, a percentage that is expected to get bigger and bigger as more investments are made in wind. Nuclear has grown by 10% a year since 2007, compared to 80% annual growth in wind power.
The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in neighbouring Japan played a large role in Chinaâ€™s hesitation to continue working toward 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2015. After a number of safety reviews, it was decided that only â€œGeneration-IIIâ€ models of nuclear plants would be approved, which has slowed down the process significantly. In 2011 and 2012, only 2,600 megawatts of nuclear power were installed, bringing the total to 12,800.
The outlook for wind, however, is much better; 19,000 megawatts of power were installed in 2011 and 2012, which is the minimum amount anticipated for installation in 2013. This makes it pretty likely that China will meet its goal of 100,000 megawatts of wind capacity on the grid by 2015, possibly reaching 200,000 megawatts by 2020.
China spends billions of dollars every year to import the uranium needed to fuel its reactors, which makes wind look even better since it does not deplete or require water for cooling. More wind installed means more money in savings, and you know the countryâ€™s population of $1.3 billion will be eager to get in on that. Keep it up, China.
Image CC licensed by Land Rover Our Planet: Wind farm, Ningxia Province, China