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China unveils world’s second largest solar power plant

China unveils world’s second largest solar power plant


China’s largest solar power plant has been connected to the grid. With a capacity of 2.2GW, the solar park in Qinghai Province in China’s northwest is among the biggest in the world, second only to the 2.245GW-capacity Bhadla solar park in India.

The announcement comes just days after President Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 surprise pledge to the United Nations General Assembly committing China to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Environmentalists have called the declaration a crucial step toward curbing Earth’s rising temperatures.

Construction on the photovoltaic plant in Qinghai was completed in around four months, and the station also features a 202.86MWh energy storage hub. The giant power station will be one piece of the central government’s proposal to create a renewable energy “super grid” in the western part of the country, CNET reports. That energy complex is expected to generate wind, solar, and hydro energy for the more densely populated eastern side of the country.

China is already positioned as the biggest producer of both solar panels and solar-generated electricity in the world. Last year, CNN reported that solar power was producing energy at cheaper prices than the grid in 344 cities across China. Research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie predicts China’s solar panel installations will reach a cumulative total of 370 GWdc by 2024, a trajectory that began with the country having almost no solar panels at the turn of the century.

Prior to the Qinghai plant’s unveiling, the largest solar park in China was the 1.54GW Tengger Desert Solar Park in the northwest province of Ningxia.

The new solar station’s connection to the grid comes shortly after another milestone in renewable energy: China’s first offshore wind power project, in the sea near the eastern province of Jiangsu, was also recently connected to the grid. That complex, once it is in full on-grid production, is expected to produce 860 million Kilowatt-hours annually from 67 wind turbines.

Though China is taking tangible steps to contribute to the world’s fight against climate change, analysts question whether renewable energy sources such as solar and wind can replace coal to such a degree that supports China’s targeted carbon neutrality timeline. Science Magazine writes that China currently contributes 28% of global carbon emissions, making the nation the biggest carbon dioxide emitter on Earth. In 2019, “the carbon-heavy fuel accounted for about 58% of China’s total energy consumption and 66% of its electricity generation.”

The country had previously committed to peak in carbon emissions around 2030, but reaching carbon neutrality by 2060 necessitates a sharp increase in the adoption of clean energy and a dramatic reduction in China’s reliance on fossil fuels. Fortune reports that, according to Greenpeace China policy adviser Li Shuo, China must phase out coal as an energy source and cease development of new coal-fired power plants — “the No. 1 priority if we are going to have any chance to fulfill the neutrality vision.”

Xi has not yet provided specific details as to how the country aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. The nation’s top leaders are currently drawing up China’s 2021 to 2025 Five-Year Plan, a policy package and roadmap that will outline economic and social development guidelines for the next half-decade. Until the document is released next March, experts can only speculate as to what steps will be taken to further develop the role of clean energy.

“Increased investment in wind, solar, electric vehicle and battery storage technology deployment will almost certainly feature, and we can expect support for green hydrogen and carbon capture technology,” Gavin Thompson, Wood Mackenzie’s Asia-Pacific vice chair for energy, told CNBC.

A document from Industrial Securities Co. also offers suggested numbers, stating that reaching net-zero emissions by 2060 will require China to connect 80 to 115GW of new solar and 36 to 45GW of new wind to the grid annually.

Source : supchina
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network