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December 22, 2009

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Change in winds for energy supply

YANG Qingshan understands the benefits of renewable energy - for rich and poor alike.

The east China abalone farmer has become a millionaire supplying the luxury seafood to wealthy diners.

But it never would have been possible without the 19 massive wind turbines that sit alongside his fish farm off Putian City, Fujian Province.

Wind power has provided a stable electricity supply to Yang and more than 50,000 other people living on the island of Nanri ("the sun in the south" in Chinese) since 2006.

"Stable temperatures are important in abalone breeding, so electricity supply is a necessity," says Yang, 49.

Lin Yushu, an official with local development and reform commission, says the wind-generated power is transmitted to homes in other towns of Putian City through undersea cables.

Another 57 wind wheels are scheduled for the Nanri wind farm next year.

"Electricity generated by one of the 850-kilowatt wind wheels in one year is enough for local people's annual residential and business needs," says Lin.

Wind power plants not only help Chinese in some of the windiest towns in coastal and northern areas become richer, like Yang, but keep towns like Nanri clean.

"The sea-based wind power turbines, including the 57 wheels to be installed on Nanri island, could save 67,000 tons of standard coal each year, which would emit almost 94,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually," Lin says.

The Nanri offshore wind power plant is among more than 100 wind farms built in China in the past five years, as the nation aims to reduce reliance on coal-fired power.

The government announced last month the goal of reducing carbon intensity per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent in 2020 from the level of 2005. China relied on coal for more than 68.7 percent of its energy supply last year.

Official figures show China's installed wind power capacity reached 12.17 million kilowatts last year, double that of a year earlier, and ranking fourth in the world.

"I do see changes every time I visit China. I guess the rate of change no longer surprises me, but astonishes me," says Steve Sawyer, of the Global Wind Energy Council.


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