Wind Farms Near Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Province
I worked in Shanghai, China from 2006 to 2008 and during that time I got the opportunity to travel around the country quite extensively. In the summer of 2007, I took an almost 60 hour train journey from Shanghai to Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west (travel guide for Urumqi) and I was quite surprised by something I saw in the deserts of Xinjiang Province.
Wind power generators. And lots of them, stretching as far as the eye can see. I knew that China was beginning to look more and more to alternative energy sources, but I had no idea the extent to which they were doing so. In fact, on the long train ride to Urumqi, I saw one nuclear power plant after another from the train window--hundreds of them. The long string of nuclear plants only made it more surprising when they were suddenly replaced by wind farms once we had entered the deserts of the west.
Even today, China still gets most of its energy from traditional sources, but the humongous scale of the wind farms I saw in the Taklamakan Desert near Urumqi showed they are definitely moving in the direction of clean energy. These days, they have several offshore wind farms along the eastern coast and are planning the world's largest in Gansu province, which is also located in the arid west. New street lights in many Chinese cities have miiature power generators affixed on top to power the lights and I've seen lights with solar panels as well. While China certainly has a long way to go, I for one, am happy to see them moving in the right direction and wish my own country would follow their lead a bit more.