Why is China's wind power generation not living up to its potential?

Following a decade of unprecedented investment, China now has the world's largest installed base of wind power capacity. Yet, despite siting most wind farms in the wind-rich Northern and Western provinces, electricity generation from Chinese wind farms has not reached the performance benchmarks of the United States and many other advanced economies. This has resulted in lower environmental, economic, and health benefits than anticipated. We develop a framework to explain the performance of the Chinese and US wind sectors, accounting for a comprehensive set of driving factors. We apply this framework to a novel dataset of virtually all wind farms installed in China and the United States through the end of 2013. We first estimate the wind sector's technical potential using a methodology that produces consistent estimates for both countries.

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