The Jiuquan Wind Power Base

Emily Koufakis
November 8, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017


Fig. 1: Wind power plants across the Gobi Desert, China. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

More than 92,000 wind turbines have been built across Chinese territory, but the one that stands at the forefront of the worlds renewable energy market is the Jiuquan Wind Power Base. Located on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert (see Fig.1), the base is one of the worlds largest wind farms with over 7,000 turbines. The Jiuquan Wind Power Base, alone, is capable of producing enough energy to power a small country. As the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Chinas government pledges to invest over $360 billion on renewable energy sources. Thus, they have become the worlds fastest growing market for renewable energy sources. [1] Despite the capabilities of the wind power base, it remains idle 15 percent of the time to prevent the destruction of China's overall power grid.


While China parades investments in renewable energy sources, its government continues to prioritize GDP growth over many environmental concerns. [2] Without any significant changes in energy demand and as long as the economy continues to grow, Chinas emissions will gradually increase until 2030. This is the main reason why even the largest wind farm Jiuquan Wind Power Base has done little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in China. [2] Moreover, grid connectivity is a major challenge for Chinas implementation of wind energy. As of 2009, roughly one-third of all installed wind turbines (representing four GW of capacity) were not connected to the nations electrical grid. [2] The first reason for this is due to the fact that many wind bases, like Jiuquan, are located in remote and underdeveloped areas. Second, climate change causes instability in renewable energy and increases the complexity of grid management. [2] Thus far, the Renewable Energy Law has performed positive change in the implementation of renewable energy, but not enough in combating Chinas greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.


Despite unpredictable setbacks from the Jiuquan, Gobi Desert climate, wind turbines are added every day to the farm. It seems as if China is undergoing a green revolution. [3] Not only are wind farms being built and operated, but the intent of the government is that all technology be made strictly in China. From this intent, renewable energy becomes a global industry with China as the lead exporters of wind technology to the world. [3] And thus, China proves successful, doubling its wind power capacity every year for the past five. [3]


Although Chinas plan for expansion and innovation of wind power is hopeful, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions continues to increase and threaten the possibility of a clean environment. The capabilities of the Jiuquan Wind Power Base are immense, but if Chinas overall consumption continues to surge, the implementation of renewable energy is unlikely.

© Emily Koufakis. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] X. Jin, "Wind Energy in China," Physics 240, Stanford University, Fall 2010.

[2] H.-J. Koch and D. König, and R. Verheyden, eds., Legal Regimes for Environmental Protection: Governance for Climate Change and Ocean Resources (Brill-Nijhoff, 2015).

[3] L. Lim, "China's Wind Power Plans Turn On Coal," NPR. 10 Dec 09.