Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei Province is aiming to make the most of its giant neighbor Beijing's desire to host a "Green Olympics" in 2008 by developing its wind power industry.
Just hundred of kilometers northwest of Beijing, the city is aiming to build up its wind power sector with the investment of billions of yuan, lifting power generation capacity in the next 10 years from the current 10 megawatts to 5,000 megawatts, said Zhangjiakou Mayor Gao Jinhao in an interview with China Daily.
And he revealed that the city's long-term plan is to build itself into one of North China's important electricity supply bases by lifting the sector's generating capacity to 10,000 megawatts.
This would be an important part of the central government's overall plan to increase the nation's wind power capacity from the current 350 megawatts to 35,000 megawatts.
Although China is one of the world's windiest countries, the development of the wind power sector has been hindered due to the huge investment and high production costs involved.
In order to make the sector more competitive, China has halved the value-added tax levied on wind-generated electricity.
The average price of electricity generated by wind power will decrease by an average of 0.05-0.06 yuan (0.6-0.7 US cents) per kilowatthour from the current 0.6-0.9 yuan (0.7-1.0 US cents) per kilowatthour. The price for newly built wind power plants is expected to drop to below 0.5 yuan per kilowatt.
Gao believes the government's incentives will play a major part in the city's development of wind power.
More importantly, the 2008 Beijing Olympics will bring unprecedented opportunities to Zhangjiakou's wind power sector, said Gao.
The Beijing municipal government wants to improve the capital's environment by planting forests in neighbouring areas, controlling automobile emissions and using more clean energy.
"Zhangjiakou is rich in wind power resources. To develop Zhangjiakou as an energy base in North China is a crucial project to integrate the economy of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei," said Gao.
Gao hopes the project can help the city's economy take off.
Zhangjiakou's economic development has been lagging far behind that of the coastal areas because the area has served as a military base for three decades. It did not open up to investment until the mid-1990s.
As part of this development drive, Zhangjiakou will also construct logistics centers, industrial bases and high-tech industrial zones on Golden Island, nearby the city, Gao said.
The city also plans to develop itself into a national ski resort. It invited more than US$1 billion to build four ski resorts since last year.
Gao also called on the central government to offer incentive policies to support the development of the city.
(China Daily April 29, 2004)