World’s largest solar plant in China

The world's largest solar power plant is being developed in China, to supply power to the city of Dunhuang in Gansu Province.

Representatives from China’s National Energy Bureau, the solar energy industry, regional and local governments, and WWF met to discuss the development of a demonstration project for an 8MWp grid-connected solar PV plant in the Gobi desert.

“We want to create a solar revolution,” said Gan Lin, WWF China’s Climate and Energy Program Director. “Our aim is for solar energy to provide 20 times the government’s target.”

WWF aim to develop 30GW of power generation capacity by 2020, equal to 3% of the total power generation capacity, or 1% of the total electricity to be generated by 2020. They plan to realise this through three major developments: large scale solar power plants in western deserts of China; solar roof applications in buildings in coastal cities; and rural electrification for independent households and village power systems.

The project combines private sector investment and international aid with government investments, in contrast to former projects formulated by government investment or subsidies alone.

High cost is still the main barrier hindering solar PV development.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) said that, by 2010 China’s central government plans to set up two 5MW solar PV demonstration sites, and by 2020, the government’s current aim is to generate 1.6GW of energy from solar PV.

China’s main source of energy at present – coal – accounts for 75% of the energy used in the country. Per capita, energy consumption is less than half of the world average.

If economic development continues at current rates, energy consumption in China will double by 2020.

By David Hopkins

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