To boost wind energy production, China needs to build turbines where the wind isn’t strong

china wind energy boost mit study turbines
China is the world leader in wind and solar power, but it still has a lot of work to do if it hopes to honor the pledge it made in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The economic powerhouse agreed to supply at least 20 percent of its energy consumption with non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. Despite being a world leader in wind power, China consumes so much energy that wind supplied just three percent of the country’s overall electricity demand last year.

But China has the potential to harness wind and exceed that 2030 goal by up to six percent, according to a new study published by MIT researchers in the journal Nature Energy. All it has to do is revamp its farming strategy.

“China currently leads the world in installed wind capacity, but has faced challenges in integrating wind into its existing electricity generation mix, with spilled wind reaching 15 percent in 2015,” MIT Energy Initiative member and study co-author Valerie Karptlus told Digital Trends. “[We] were interested in grid-integrated wind energy potential and the impact of adjusting grid operations to allow wind to substitute more readily for coal when wind is available.”

When we consider where to farm a resource, we intuitively think its best to head where that resource is richest. Not so, says Karplus. At least not always.

When wind farms are developed in remote and windy areas, far away from energy grids, the cost of transmission and “spillage” – or an overabundance of a resource that can compromise the price of other forms of energy – becomes greater than if the wind farms were developed near energy grids in less windy areas. By building turbines closer to existing grids, the generated power can be more easily incorporated into the energy program.

“Under existing grid and generation expansion plans, China can integrate more wind nearby demand centers because of the cost required to build transmission, the limited capacity of these lines to deliver a large amount of simultaneous wind, and the more flexible generation mixes in the east compared to distant regions,” MIT graduate student and co-author Michael R. Davidson told Digital Trends.

Along with wind, Karplus said solar, nuclear, and hydro power can contribute significantly to China’s 2030 target. Still, the intermittent nature of wind and solar requires flexibility and China will need to coordinate these developments with coal-powered plants, which currently supply over 70 percent of the country’s electricity.

That may be the biggest hurdle. China’s energy program has a historical bond to coal-power. Separating that bond “involves changing longstanding norms and procedures in the power system.” said Karplus[A]djusting grid operations through further reforms…poses a major challenge but has great potential to improve outcomes for wind.”


The LG V30+ gets a huge price cut on Amazon, today only

Though Amazon early Black Friday deals began at the start of November, the discounts are only just now starting to get good. Today only, Amazon is offering a whopping 40 percent off the unlocked LG V30+.
DT Daily

DT Daily: Windows woes, A.I. news anchors, and Disney’s streaming service

On the fourteenth episode of DT Daily, host Greg Nibler and guest Nicole Raney talked about the biggest tech stories of the day, including a troublesome Windows 10 update, China's A.I. news anchor, and more.
Emerging Tech

Virtual newscaster wants to know: Is this the real me or just a fantasy?

China's state news agency introduced a virtual newsreader. The voices, lip movements, and expressions of real news presenters are used to synthesize the virtual readers. The agency says virtual readers will cut production costs.
Smart Home

This super-cool tiny home with a living wall lived at the UN this summer

This tiny home is a collaboration between Yale University and Gray Organschi Architecture that can potentially be produced for less than $50,000 and assembled on site within three days.

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Emerging Tech

‘Bionic mushroom’ can generate electricity without using fossil fuels

Researchers have come up with a way to produce electricity without fossil fuels using mushrooms covered with bacteria. The mushroom provides a safe environment for special cyanobacteria that generate electricity when light is shone on them.
Emerging Tech

Curiosity rover active and drilling again after computer issue

The Curiosity rover has succeeded in drilling a hole into the tough bedrock that previously defeated it, allowing imaging and collection of samples. The rover had been incapacitated for a few weeks due to problems with its computer.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover two rogue planets that do not orbit a star

Astronomers have identified two rogue planets in our galaxy which do not orbit around a star. Unlike the vast majority of discovered planets, these rogue planets drift through space alone with no sun to shine on them.
Emerging Tech

Pairs of supermassive black holes spotted in colliding galaxies

Astronomers have discovered several pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies that are colliding with each other. These black holes will spiral closer and closer together and eventually merge into one supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Quantum-based accelerometer can locate objects without GPS

Researchers have created a quantum "compass" that allows navigation without satellites. The instrument, technically called a standalone quantum accelerometer, is small enough to be transportable and has a very high level of accuracy.
Emerging Tech

Ancient continent discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica

Antarctica could be hiding the remains of a long-lost continent. Scientists created a 3D map of the crust beneath the Antarctic ice sheet which shows a similarity to the crust in Australia and India, suggesting they used to be joined.