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Kunming preparing to harness wind power

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Kunming is preparing to diversify its energy consumption - and hopefully address its growing air pollution issues - by harnessing its abundant windpower.

Construction of the 22 wind turbines at Kunming's first wind farm began in Fumin County on August 5, according to a Kunming Daily report.

The Dafengyakou (大风丫口) wind farm is expected to go into operation before the end of this year, lessening the city's reliance on hydropower as a source of electricity.

Initial work on the 388 million yuan (US$60.4 million) wind farm project began in May of this year. Once operational, the Dafengyakou wind farm is projected to have an installed capacity of 33 megawatts. Foundations for eight of the 22 planned turbines have been poured so far.

The municipal government is estimating that the completed wind farm will prevent the burning of 22,400 tons of coal annually, which will in turn keep 1,560 tons of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and smoke dust from entering Kunming's skies each year.

Shortly after Dafengyakou's launch, another wind farm to the city's west at Mayingshan (马英山) will be constructed. Initial work on the 408-million-yuan Mayingshan wind farm is scheduled to commence this month. The project is expected to have an installed capacity of 40 megawatts.

Increasing wind power generation is a national energy priority in China, which is now the world's third-largest provider of wind-generated electricity, after the US and Germany.

In addition to its green credentials, wind power provides a useful hedge against hydropower.

In early 2010 Yunnan, which exports much of the hydroelectricity generated by its numerous rivers, halted electricity exports to Guangdong province due to generation shortfalls caused by the drought of 2009/2010.

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