China widens wind power lead over U.S., world with another 23 GW

China installed almost three times more wind power than the U.S. last year, continuing its clean-energy investment blitz to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase air quality.

China led new global wind-power installations with 23.3 gigawatts, compared with 8.2 gigawatts in second-place U.S., according to a report published Friday by the Global Wind Energy Council. About 54.6 gigawatts of new turbines were installed globally, raising total capacity to about 487 gigawatts worldwide.

Even as China races ahead of other countries in terms of installed wind capacity, its turbines aren’t producing electricity at the same rate because of inadequate transmission infrastructure. Even with more than double the installed capacity as the U.S., China generated only 241 terawatt-hours of wind power compared with 224 terawatt-hours, according to data from China’s National Energy Administration and the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing generation over 12-months ending in the fourth quarter.

“Chinese electricity demand growth is slackening, and the grid is unable to handle the volume of new wind capacity additions; although we expect the market to pick up again in 2017,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC secretary general, in the statement. “Wind power continues to grow in double digits, but we can’t expect the industry to set a new record every single year.”

China saw the amount of idled wind power increase 47 percent in 2016 from a year earlier, according to the data from the NEA. About 17 percent of wind turbines in China weren’t generating electricity last year.

China raised total installed capacity to 169 gigawatts, compared with 82 gigawatts in the U.S. They were followed by Germany, with 50 gigawatts, and India, with 29 gigawatts, as the world’s largest wind markets.

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