The total grid-connected installed capacity of wind power in northwest China has grown from 16,260 MW in 2013 to 43,290 MW in 2016; an increase of 88.7% each year. However, this region has suffered from increasingly serious wind curtailment since 2014, and the wind curtailment amount accounts for nearly a half of China’s total. The wind curtailment rate of Gansu Province, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in this area has increased and remains high. This paper constructs an analytical model to explore the reasons of the high wind curtailment of these three provinces from the four aspects of the wind power supply capacity, demand, grid transmission capacity, power system flexibility and market mechanism and laws. The results show that the relationship between the wind energy distribution and supply and the local load is incompatible, which is the source causing the high wind curtailment in northwest China. On the one hand, the game between the local government and developers has driven the development of wind power bases. On the other hand, the electricity sector is growing slowly and oversupply of electricity is seen in many areas of China. The wind power grid of northwest China not only faces limit of grid transmission capacity, but also constraint of insufficient flexibility of the electricity system. Presently, China has not set up a market mechanism and subsidy mechanism for the peak load adjustment, thus the thermal power companies lack motivation to voluntarily adjust the peak load. Moreover, the regional segregation and market barriers are also obstacles for the wind power outward transmission.
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