The Gansu Wind Farm is the largest onshore windfarm in the world. (The Financial Times Limited 2021)
The Rise of Wind Power in Asia
02 March 2021 – by Eric Koons
What is wind power?
Wind power or wind energy is kinetic energy that is generated by the wind as it moves. A wind turbine would convert the wind energy into mechanical and eventual electric power.
How do wind power plants work?
Wind power plants capture this kinetic energy using rotating wind turbines and convert it into mechanical energy. Then generators convert the mechanical energy into electricity, which goes through the power grid.
Types of Wind Power Plants
There are three main types of wind power plants: utility-scale, distributed (small), and offshore wind which captures wind energy. Offshore wind turbines generate the most electricity, averaging 4,000 kilowatts.
Differences in wind turbines
Onshore and distributed wind turbines are typically much smaller and average 2,000 and 1.6 kilowatts, respectively. The efficiency of wind turbines is relatively high compared to solar energy. The theoretical Betz Limit of 59 percent is the maximum efficiency possible however, most turbines average 50 percent.
The Current State of Wind Energy in Asia
Asia produced 34.5 percent of the world’s total wind energy in 2018. China led the world with 28.7 percent and India accounted for 5 percent. A vast majority of this is from utility-scale wind power plants. Two examples of these utility-scale wind power plants are found in China and Japan. Currently, the Gansu Wind Farm in China is the world’s largest onshore windfarm with a 7.9-gigawatt capacity. And the Shin Izumo onshore wind farm in Japan has a 78-megawatt capacity.
Planned wind farms in Asia
Numerous wind power plant projects have been planned throughout Asia for the coming years. In Southeast Asia it is estimated that 8.9 gigawatts of wind power capacity will be realized by 2030. The planned Ulsan Offshore Wind Complex in South Korea will be the world’s largest floating offshore wind project with a 1.5-gigawatt capacity. And the planned Thang Long Wind project will be Vietnam’s largest offshore wind power plant with a 3.4-gigawatt capacity.
The Future of Wind Power in Asia
By 2050, Asia is projected to increase new wind power installations by nine folds, totaling 613 gigawatts of offshore and 2,646 gigawatts of onshore wind power. To reach these projections, annual investments will need to average between $61 and $211 billion USD. This presents significant growth opportunities for wind power-related companies and associated industries. Beyond turbine manufacturers there is a compelling thesis for project developers, operations managers, and power generation/ transmission facilities.
Asia’s overall capacity for wind power, including existing and future projects, positions it to be a dominant region in wind energy generation. Its projects, such as the world’s largest onshore wind farm and floating offshore wind project, showcase innovation and ability to scale. Finally, the 2050 projections for new offshore and onshore wind power plants indicate a high level of commitment towards wind power. Combined, this will create significant investment opportunities, renewable energy and economic benefits for the continent.