Wind energy development gets a booster dose

Report: China Plays Host

By Anagha Bhambri

In the light of an intensified drive to turn the tables on climate change, an international programme on wind power development has been undertaken by Life Academy in collaboration with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

China, which is waiting in the wings to beat US and become the next wind superpower, played the perfect host to the first phase of the training programme. The five-phase programme, aims to build “information soldiers” who can spread the word on wind power development in their respective countries as well as bring about a change. And in order to make this exercise meaningful, Life Academy has identified 25 participants with various backgrounds from 12 countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

The two-day session, organised in Beijing, China for the 13 participants from Asia and Europe, reflected on the fast-paced growth of wind energy across the globe. Remarkably, wind energy is one resource which has been growing at an annual CAGR of 20-30 per cent globally, and surpassed 90 GW in 2007 – 50 times installed capacity in 1990.

In China, the growth of wind power technology has been even more dramatic: According to Mr Ming Liang, project manager, Chinese Wind Energy Association, the annual growth rate of wind power in the country has been more than 100 per cent since 2006. Besides this, the cumulative wind power installation exceeded 12 GW at the end of 2008. Though as of now land-based wind power predominates, offshore wind power is gradually gaining ground. In fact, the eastern coast of the country is known to be the power load centre as a result of a developed economy. However, like many other developing countries China too has its own battles to win. Some of the pertinent issues looming large over the sector are need for chalking out plans and regulations at the national level, wind resource assessment, formalising sustainable development aspects, and the necessity to set up domestic facilities for manufacturing high-speed bearings and gearboxes.

The workshop in this context provided the participants an opportunity to understand a growing economy’s dilemma in relation to clean energy development.

Interspersed with historical data and anecdotes on efforts to combat climate change, the sessions traced back the United Nation’s conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, where world leaders from more than 150 countries agreed to set up an agenda for the 21st century (Agenda 21) in order to achieve a global sustainable development. The conference was an important chapter in LIFE Academy’s pursuit to conduct programmes on sustainable development and climate change issues.

After the conference the academy was commissioned by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to provide training in “Sustainable Development with focus on Agenda 21” to “key persons” from developing countries. Since then LIFE Academy has successfully trained over 600 people from 70 countries, and today these alumni are members of the LIFE Global Network.

Held at the Xicheng Library in the Xicheng District of Beijing in co-operation with the Chinese Wind Energy Association, the workshop put the spotlight on inter-regional exchange of ideas to make a difference and discussed the methods adopted by various participants for implementing them. The group included representatives from China, Georgia, Moldova, India, Nepal, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

The one common concern highlighted by all participants during the workshop was the acute energy crisis and the urgent need for sustainable development.

While Georgia, Moldova and Vietnam are new entrants in the wind energy sector, Sri Lanka and Nepal already have installed capacities, though good grid connectivity is yet to be established. In Sri Lanka, small wind power projects are being set up and in Nepal the focus is on installing small wind turbines due to low wind speed regime.

By the last session, the workshop had given enough time to participants to develop an understanding about region-specific problems and exchange ideas to work around them. And this was the beginning of “a change”.

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