Construction has begun on China’s largest concentrated solar power tower plant in the northwestern province of Qinghai.
Occupying 2,550 hectares of the Gobi Desert in Golmud City, the CSP plant will have an installed capacity of 200 megawatts, and be capable of supplying electricity to 1 million households, according to Qinghai Solar-Thermal Power Group.
“Its designed heat storage is 15 hours, thus, it can guarantee stable, continual power generation,” said group board chair Wu Longyi.
Once operational, the plant will slash standard coal use by 4.26 million tonnes every year, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide by 896,000 tonnes and 8,080 tonnes, respectively.
Using heliostats to focus sunlight onto a central tower for power generation, the solar power tower system boasts higher efficiency and better energy storage than the more commonly used trough system.
Located 2,870 meters above sea level on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Golmud has particularly favorable conditions for the developing new energy industry, said Wu Tianxiao, Communist Party of China Golmud deputy secretary.
The plant will also be China’s first large-scale solar power plant under commercial operation, said Yu Mingzhen, vice director of Qinghai development and reform commission, heralding the project a landmark in China’s solar energy development.
China has been focusing on increasing its proportion of clean energy. By 2014, the country’s solar power capacity was 28.05 gigawatts, 400 times more than 2005, and there are plans to increase this to around 100 gigawatts by 2020.
On Tuesday, the regional government of Tibet, China’s sunniest place, said the region has increased its solar power capacity to 200 megawatts and 600,000 people have used solar electricity.