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China, EU, Turkey Ramp Up Wind Energy

windturbinesAs China positions itself as the number three global provider in wind energy, the European Union, including the UK, and Turkey are making plans to ramp up their renewable energy efforts in 2010.

China has become the third largest global wind energy provider in 2009, reaching 20 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, according to the official New China press agency, reports Instal Biz.

China overtook over Spain for third position, following behind the U.S. and Germany. China plans to increase its percentage of renewable energy from 9 percent in 2009 up to 15 percent in 2020, reports Instal Biz.

If China continues to make renewable energy investments, wind energy may be able to supply up to 50 percent of its electricity needs by 2030, according to a study by the Global World Energy Council.

China recently came under fire for hindering the adoption of an official document mandating greenhouse emission reductions at the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, reports Instal Biz.

The UK is expected to launch a £100 billion ($161 billion) green power program when Prime Minister Gordon Brown awards development contracts to build offshore wind farms, targeting about one third of UK’s energy coming from wind power by 2020, as it makes plans to cut emissions, reports Times Online.

Industry experts don’t expect construction to start on the new sites until at least 2015, citing that each of the sites are bigger than any of those in operation today, reports Times Online. The biggest wind farm is slated to produce 10 GW of power, more than 10 times the capacity of total global offshore wind power in operation today, according to the article.

However, analysts are questioning the wisdom of relying on untested power sources — currently there is less than 1 GW of installed offshore wind power — in one of the harshest operating environments, reports Times Online.

The UK also recently proposed new planning rules that will allow home owners, offices, schools, stadiums and railway stations to install solar panels without planning permissions, as well as ease planning rules for other renewable sources.

Despite the challenges, 2008 was the first year that investment in wind outstripped investment in all other types of energy infrastructure in Europe, according to the European Wind Energy Association, reports Times Online.

While the UK beefs up its offshore wind power installations, the EU is making plans for its first electricity grid dedicated to renewable power. The Guardian reports that nine countries are drawing up plans to link their renewable energy projects, including wind and solar farms and hydro-electric dams, around the North Sea.

The supergrid network, comprised of up to thousands of kilometers of undersea cables that could cost up to €30 billion ($43 billion), would solve the unreliability issue often associated with renewable power due to unpredictable weather, reports The Guardian.

The nine countries participating in the supergrid — Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and the UK — hope to have a plan in place by autumn to build a high-voltage direct current network within the next decade, reports The Guardian.

A North Sea grid could link into grids proposed by a larger German-led plan for renewables called the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) with a goal to provide 15 percent of Europe’s electricity by 2050 or earlier via power lines across desert and the Mediterranean, reports The Guardian.

The $400-billion DII plan calls for the use of concentrated solar power (CSP) in southern Europe and northern Africa, according to the article.

Turkey is also increasing its efforts in renewable energy, in part due to an energy efficiency law passed by the Turkish government in 2007 and financial assistance received in 2009 from the World Bank, which is investing $600 million in renewable sources including biomass, hydro, wind and geothermal, reports the Green Prophet.

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