Utility scale solar is expected to exceed 100 GW by the end of 2016, thanks in particular to deployment in China. This month's article by Philip Wolfe focuses on the dynamic growth of the Chinese solar market.
China tops 25 GW of utility scale solar
Energy industry commentators focus on China's coal-fired power generation, while the dramatic strides which the world's second-largest economy is taking to deploy renewable energy are too often overlooked.
China has been on top of the world league table of the deployment of utility scale solar power since 2013. Figures for the first quarter of 2016 show that its installed capacity is now more than 25 GW.
This includes the world’s largest solar power station in the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai, the 850-MWP Longyangxia Solar-Hydro; so called because it feeds its power into the grid at the hydro-power station on the Longyangxia Reservoir.
The leading Chinese provinces
In the early years, it was mainly the provinces around the Taklamakan and Gobi Deserts, which had any significant large-scale solar capacity. Over the last couple of years, several other provinces have joined the party.
Gansu, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia still lead the way, thanks in particular to extensive clusters of solar developments, such as this one north-west of Zhongwei in Ningxia. Similar solar zones have been established at Fenglezhen, Qilizhen, Jinchang and Jinta in Gansu; as well as Golmud and Delingha in Qinghai.
Provinces without suitable desert areas have adopted different strategies to identify the best areas for deploying solar power stations.
The trend towards renewables from traditional power generation is illustrated by the number of sites where new solar capacity has been installed on the ash-fields and sites of former coal-fired power stations, such as those in Baicheng, Guixi and Shentou.
Because of the predominantly mountainous terrain of Yunnan, several solar projects have been sited on remote hillsides such as the range in Shilin in the picture. Coastal provinces such as Jiangsu have used tidal flats for solar projects such as those at Sheyang and Jianggang.
Other recent utility-scale PV news
We end as usual with our regular monthly look at interesting and new developments in the last month or so:
Chile’s largest solar power station to date, the 138-MWAC (160-MWP) Finis Terrae project, was connected by Enel in Maria Elena in Tocopilla province.
India’s largest single plant, the 200-MWAC Anantapur I, was commissioned by NTPC in Kadiri, Andhra Pradesh.
Cuba’s first utility-scale solar plant was approved -- a 50-MW project by British developer Hive Energy.
Source of data
All the details in these posts are based on the Wiki-Solar Database of some 5,500 utility-scale PV solar projects around the world. Unless otherwise stated, capacities are expressed in terms of the AC output of the plant, and ‘utility-scale’ is defined as projects of 4-MWAC and over.
About the author:
Philip Wolfe MBE has been in renewables since the 1970’s when he was founder Chief Executive of BP Solar. He led companies in the PV sector until the early 2000’s. Since then he has undertaken more broadly-based roles in renewable and community energy. His book on utility-scale solar was published in 2012.
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