GREAT FORTUNES STAND: Wind power generation sets work at Yumen Wind Power Industrial Park. Jiuquan, Gansu Province, has ambitious plans to develop a wind power industry and has attracted many investors of wind power plants and equipment manufacturing (WANG XIANG)
In Yumen, Jiuquan in Gansu Province, within the boundless Gobi desert, a two-story modern-style building stands like an oasis. Very different from the wild scenery outside, the picture inside the building is cheerful: The temperature is comfortable, the air is not as dry as that outside, green plants can be seen everywhere, and solar cells on the roof supply most of the electricity it needs.
This is the master control building of CECIC-HKC Wind Power Co. Ltd., a 60-40 joint venture of the China Energy Conservation and Environment Protection Group and Hong Kong Construction Holding Ltd. Starting operation in November 2009, the company, with 1.73 billion yuan ($255.15 million) in total investment, is one of the new energy businesses set up in Jiuquan during the past two years. Many others have followed suit this year.
Limited by harsh natural conditions and poor resources, the economic development of Gansu is slower than the national average. In Jiuquan, locals describe the place as one where "stones, beaten by strong wind, run around and not a blade of grass grows." Now, however, Jiuquan has found a new way to develop its economy, by utilizing the "harsh" natural conditions.
With Qilian Mountains standing in the south and the Gobi desert lying in the north, Jiuquan features a dry and windy climate. Within the city, Guazhou is called the "wind warehouse of the world" and Yumen the "draught of the world."
According to figures from the Jiuquan Municipal Government, the city's theoretical wind power reserves total 150 gigawatts (GW), of which 45 gw can be exploited in the short term. This supply accounts for one-seventh of the country's total exploitable wind power, and the annual power generation time at full capacity is 2,300 hours.
Moreover, since 40 percent of the land area in Jiuquan is inhospitable Gobi desert, the city doesn't need to requisition cultivated land or relocate residents in order to develop wind power.
Jiuquan started its wind power experiment early in 1996, when four 300-kw wind power turbines were erected at the Yumen Jieyuan Wind Power Plant. The city is among the first in the country to develop wind power, just after Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions.
In April 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved the construction of a wind power base in Jiuquan with a total installed capacity of 12.71 gw.
According to figures by the Information Office of the Jiuquan Municipal Government, by the end of 2009, Jiuquan had installed 2.2 gw of wind power generation sets, and in 2010, the city plans to add another 3.16 gw. According to the NDRC's plan, Jiuquan's wind power installed capacity will hit 12.71 gw by 2015.
Of the theoretical 150 gw and 45 gw of exploitable wind power in Jiuquan, the county-level city of Yumen has 30 gw of theoretical reserves and 20 gw of exploitable wind power, making it a major focus for new energy construction in the locality.
By 2007, Yumen had become the biggest wind power base in Gansu and by the end of 2009, the city's wind power installed capacity had reached 1 gw, said Zhan Shunzhou, Secretary of the Yumen Committee of the Communist Party of China. By the end of 2010, that capacity will surpass 2 gw.
Since transportation expenses account for a large portion of the total equipment investment by wind power plants, using locally manufactured wind power equipment will greatly reduce transportation costs. Before 2008, the equipment used in Jiuquan came from the city of Lianyungang in Jiangsu Province. In 2008, however, the Wind Electricity Equipment Manufacture Industrial Park of Gansu Jiuquan Industrial Park was established.
The park, covering an area of 60,000 square meters, is now home to Gansu Goldwind Wind Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Sinomatech Wind Power Blade Co. Ltd. and many other manufacturers of wind power equipment such as wind power turbines and blades to be installed at the Jiuquan wind power base, 150 km away.