Beijing, China — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 05 May 2011 – The nuclear accident triggered at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi plant by the devastating earthquake in Japan in March has created new market opportunities for China’s wind power sector.

According to a statistical report released by the Chinese Wind Energy Association, mainland China added 18.9GW of new wind power capacity in 2010, a year-over-year increase of 73.3%, bringing the country’s installed wind power capacity up to 44.7GW and catapulting the country to first place globally for the first time, ahead of the U.S in terms of installed wind power capacity.

At the end of 2010, the country had approximately 29.6GW of wind turbines connected to the grid. For the past five years, grid-connected wind power installed capacity has nearly doubled every year. The country is on track to install more than 90GW of wind power capacity by 2015 and 150 GW by 2020.

Compared with other new energies, including nuclear power, wind power is safer, emits less carbon and is more environmentally friendly, say analysts. And given the recent events in Japan, wind power is less costly than nuclear power.

Shi Lishan, deputy director of the department of new and renewable sources for the National Energy Board of China, has revealed that the country is now focusing mainly on the development of onshore wind power, while at the same time it started construction of several large-scale offshore wind power plants last year.

As set forth in the government’s five-year plan, from 2012 to 2016 the country expects to build and hopefully export 5GW offshore wind turbines. An analyst at Donghai Securities expects China to increase exports of wind turbines over the next several years, driving the rapid growth of the country’s wind power sector.