Denmark’s help was important for China’s wind turbine boom

Photo: China Daily / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix

The Chinese wind sector has grown enormously within the past 15 years, with Danish expertise acting as a key helper. Danish daily JydskeVestkysten has spoken to Kaare Sandholt, chief expert at China National Renewable Energy Center about the development in China and Denmark’s role in that.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases but is also the world’s largest player when it comes to renewable energy. China was responsible for about a third of the world’s capacity in 2019 and the country is also leading in both hydropower, solar energy, and wind power. And when it comes to wind, Denmark has played a small but important role in helping the Chinese explosion of wind turbines on its way since the Chinese authorities in 2005 asked Denmark for help in getting the country’s minimal wind sector up and running. The Danish-Chinese collaboration has since then paved the way for tens of thousands of wind turbines.

According to Kaare Sandholt, the Chinese-Danish cooperation is probably one of the best investments in CO2 reduction that Denmark has taken. Kaare Sandholt has also previously worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the Danish-Chinese cooperation.

The first handful of years, the collaboration was technical and the Danish experts helped their Chinese colleagues find optimal locations for the turbines, taught them how to measure wind, to assess the turbines’ potential power production, helped educate people and develop technical requirements for the wind turbines. The next collaboration program was about making the electricity system flexible, to ensure the use of wind power, which is a flexible energy source according to how much it blows in the best possible way.

The electricity system was inflexible because it is primarily based on coal power, which is a very stable energy source but Denmark knows how to make the system flexible so that green energy takes precedence over black energy.
“In Denmark, we have made coal flexible instead of wind. So we sent good technicians from Denmark who showed how to turn down the coal power plants when there is a lot of wind energy, Kaare Sandholt says to JydskeVestkysten.

Developments in the Chinese energy system are complex. China is by far the biggest player when it comes to renewable energy. At the same time, the country accounts for more than half of the world’s coal-fired energy and is building more and more coal-fired power plants, although the expansion of green electricity is accelerating.

And there are still “very high ceilings” for renewable energy in China, as Kaare Sandholt says. He is now working to prepare for the central energy authorities how the country can move towards a system based on a huge expansion of green electricity. “The trend is clear because sun and wind are cheaper than coal. It will continue, no doubt about that,” he says.

China has also installed a record amount of wind power in 2020. And Denmark has thus played a role in that development. “If they had had problems with their first large wind farms, we would not have seen so much wind energy now. So here Denmark has had a big footprint. It is a huge global climate gain,” Kaare Sandholt says

Mette Larsen

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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