In a move that once again proves its commitment to renewable energy, China has begun construction on its first large-scale commercial solar plant out in the sun-dreched expanse of the Gobi Desert. Called Delingha, the colossal facility will spread out across 25 km² (6,300 acres) of vacant land in the country's Qinghai province, and will feature six huge solar towers hooked up to an array of solar mirrors.
When complete, the plant will run on six 135-megawatt solar towers, which will supply electricity to over 1 million households in Qinghai year-round. "Its designed heat storage is 15 hours, thus, it can guarantee stable, continual power generation," Qinghai Solar-Thermal Power Group board chair, Wu Longyi, told the press.
The facility is the first solar plant to be run as a commercial entity, and according to Svati Kirsten Narula at Quartz, it's being jointly developed by BrightSource Energy, based in Oakland, California, and the Shanghai Electric Group in China. The first phase of construction will look at completing two solar towers so they can generate 135 megawatts each to cover more than 452,000 homes, and then the remaining four will be completed to cover at least 1 million.
"BrightSource is also a partner in the world's largest CSP plant, in California's Mojave desert, which can generate up to 392 megawatts," says Narula.
Business Standard reports that once up and running, the plant will cut standard coal use by 4.26 million tonnes every year, which will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 896,000 tonnes and sulphur dioxide by 8,080 tonnes.
It will also be adding to the 5 gigawatts of solar that have already been added to China's electrical grid this year, and will go towards its lofty goal of generating 17.8 gigawatts of new capacity via solar photovoltaic technology by the end of 2015. Right now, in terms of dollars spent on renewable energy, China is the leading country in the world for investment in renewables.
"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," Business Standard reports.