Xinjiang trying to turn wind into power

Source: [15:42 July 30 2009]

The Gobi Desert and its harsh weather conditions are best known in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for sandstorms and rocks. Now the local government and investors are trying to make use of the wind to help fuel the growing economy.

These giant windmills bring electricity to households, and profits to investors. Although one turbine costs more than a million US dollars, investors are eager to tap into the power of the wind. Operation costs are low and there are no green house gases.

Du Guangli, vice general manager of Huaneng Xinjiang Energy Dev't Co., said, "Wind power constitutes nearly 10 percent of the total generation capacity our company is building in Xinjiang. We are also planning a wind power generation capacity of 1.1 megawatts in the region in the next few years."

All that's needed to push the turbine is the wind, which has been considered excessive in Xinjiang. Workers here have been stuck in the room for up to a week before the wind eases up enough.

The wind is strong enough to derail a train. And now the local government wants to harness that power to drive the engine of the economy.

The Xinjiang Goldwind Company is one of the major turbine builders in China. Ten years ago, it was a small scale, local company. It now sells its products in most of China and to overseas. The growth of the market has brought a doubling in sales. Yet wind power generation also has some growing pains.

Hu Jiang, chief Operation manager of Xinjiang Guldwind Sci. & Tech, said, "The fast growth of the market has resulted in the excessive competition. Yet wind power generation is a very complicated technology. Generation turbines have to endure harsh weather conditions on the site. A minor error can result in great losses."

Yet more and more investors are still coming to take advantage of the vast wind power potential in Xinjiang. Local regulators are kept busy evaluating applications from different companies every day. Industry insiders are calling for a more regulated market for the healthy development of wind power generation in the region.