China has opened the world’s second largest solar plant in the Tibetan province of Qinghai. The 2.2GW facility was built by state-owned utility Huanghe Hydropower Development.
The plant cost $2.2bn to build, and a further $3.2bn was spent by the State Grid Corporation on the ultra-high-voltage line that transmits the electricity produced to more populous areas of the country.
The line is said to be the first such line to deliver 100% renewable energy over long distances.
The plant is second in size only to the Bhadla Solar Park in northern India, which has 45MW more generating capacity.
China is planning to build the world’s largest super grid by connecting the country’s six regional power grids and transmitting electricity from renewable resources in the west to the east, where most of the demand is.
This September, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged at the UN General Assembly that China would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 (see further reading). According to PV Magazine it will need to install 1.9TW of solar generation capacity by mid-century.
Greg Jones, a projects expert at legal firm Pinsent Masons, commented in the firm’s Out-Law journal: "Historically there have been issues with renewable power being stranded while awaiting suitable grid connection, but this project’s ultra-high-voltage line and the wider national super grid plan demonstrates a firm commitment to putting this right. We can expect many more facilities at this scale in the coming years given the investment needed to achieve the carbon neutrality goal."
China’s biggest solar power station before the opening of the Qinghai plant was the Tengger Desert Solar Park in the northwest province of Ningxia, with a capacity of 1.5GW.
The plant, which is part of a planned 16GW renewable power complex, was completed in four months and includes a 200MW energy storage system supplied by Hefei-based solar technology company Sungrow.
Built in five phases, it consists of 672 arrays with over 7 million individual modules.
Image: Huawei’s image of the plant. The Chinese tech company supplied 1.6GW of inverters to the project