According to [the Inner Mongolia Electric Power Industry Association] EPIA, Inner Mongolia's installed wind power capacity approaches 3.5 gigawatts, and currently nearly one-third of that is sitting idle. The remaining two-thirds capacity is supplied by turbines that run erratically, shutting off and on according to demand.Unsurprisingly, the shortcomings of Chinese windmills are equaled in America (and everywhere else).
"Wind power is too concentrated" in certain regions of China including Inner Mongolia, Ma said. "When there is wind, wind power plants need to generate electricity. But power grids get overwhelmed."
And that wastes money. Nationwide, some 5 million gigawatts of wind power generating capacity never made it to the grid during the first half of 2009. Since wind farm construction costs some 10,000 yuan per kilowatt, the total idle investment is worth about 50 billion yuan [=$7.3 billion].
"The winter wind blows hard, but things aren't easy for wind power," Ma told Caijing.
Outside Inner Mongolia, wind power capacity is unevenly spread across sections of Gansu Province in the northwest, Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces in the northeast, and coastal areas such as Jiangsu Province.
With the exception of Jiangsu wind farms, most of the nation's wind energy operators concentrate power generation at a grid terminus or in areas with high concentrations of thermal plant capacity. And factors such as local market demand, power grid links, wind farm expansions and capacity peaks contribute to the fact that equivalent full load hours (EFLH) are relatively rare for wind farms.
(via reader OBH via Business Insider, MaxedOutMama)