BEIJING, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- China has surpassed the United States as the country with the largest wind power installation in the world, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reports.
China installed 16 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2010, a 62 percent increase from the previous year, said the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, Xinhua reports.
That brings the country's total installed capacity to 41.8 gigawatts, giving China -- the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases -- the potential to replace 31.3 million tons of coal, slashing emissions of more than 90 million tons of carbon dioxide, Xinhua reports.
The United States, by contrast, installed about 5 gigawatts of new wind-power capacity in 2010, bringing its total installed capacity to 40.2 gigawatts, says the Global Wind Energy Council.
Yet China's grid-connected capacity lags behind installed capacity by more than 30 percent, CREIA says, which is considerably higher than the 10 percent gap in advanced countries and affects wind power efficiency.
To translate the country's wind power installations into massive utilization, Greenpeace said the government must introduce effective incentive policies and completely overhaul the national grid.
"This shortfall in generation tells us that China still has a long way to go to reach its full potential in wind and other renewable energy," said Yang Ailun of Greenpeace East Asia in a news release.
"Despite a renewable energy policy requiring grid companies to purchase all available electricity generated by wind farms, wind power access to the grid is impeded by an unstable, outdated grid infrastructure," he said.
Other problems, Yang said, include a lack of incentives and penalties for grid companies and slow progress in additional wind energy technologies.
An Ernst & Young report released in November indicated China, which has surpassed the United States as the world's biggest consumer of energy, is the leader in the global renewable energy market. In the second quarter of 2010, the report said, China invested around $10 billion in wind power, about half of the global total of $20.5 billion.
If the Chinese Cabinet approves a proposed $758 billion energy industrial development plan, $227 billion of investment would flow into China's wind power sector, Xinhua reports.
Half of the wind turbines expected to come online this year around the world will have been manufactured in China.
Analysts say Chinese President Hu Jintao's scheduled visit to Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama next week is likely to push the issue of China's wind power subsidies into the spotlight.