From the Three Gorges Dam to the Great Wall, China is known for its monumental projects that count among the biggest and grandest in the world. Recently the nation announced its latest supermassive project: the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant. Planned by China Technology Development Group Corp and privately-held Qinghai New Energy Group, the project will begin with a 30 MW plant in the Qaidam Basin that will expand to produce 1 GW of solar energy.
Situated at an elevation of 2,500-3,000 meters, the Qaidam Basin is the third largest basin in China. It is located in the Quinghai Province, and is know as the “Treasure Basin” for its rich supply of minerals and resources. The four treasures found in the basin are salt, oil, lead zinc and borax, and soon a fifth treasure will be added to the list – solar energy.
Both traditional silicon-based photovoltaic and thin-film panels will be used in this new power plant, and the initial 30 MW array is expected to cost $150 million. There is currently no word on which manufacturers will supply the solar panels, but a number of companies will likely be employed to meet the needs of the project.
This past year has seen a number of announcements heralding the construction of large solar plants around the world, with the most recent announcement coming from California for an 800 MW plant built by Optisolar and Sunpower. Granted the great number of photovoltaic manufacturers in China, it’s only natural for the country to be pushing for more solar power projects and offering more incentives. Even though this is wonderful news for the solar industry, a 1 GW plant hardly puts a dent in China’s carbon emissions. In 2006 alone, China reportedly installed 90 GW of coal-fired power.
Construction of the new solar plant will begin in 2009, although there is no estimated completion date.