China has reportedly started construction of its first commercial large scale solar power plant located in the Gobi desert.
The plant, designed to spread across 25 square kilometres of abandoned land in the Qinghai province, will generate 200 megawatts of power, enough to supply one million homes with electricity.
The development underlines the commitment of China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, to renewable power.
The plant will use concentrated solar power technology, relying on a set of six solar towers processing light reflected by an array of solar mirrors. The plant will also be equipped with heat storage technology capable of storing up to 15 hours worth of electricity.
The plant, being built jointly by California-based BrightSource Energy and the Shanghai Electric Group, will allow China to burn 4.26 million tonnes less coal every year. That's equivalent to an annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 896,000 tonnes and sulphur dioxide emissions of 8,080 tonnes.
China’s solar power generation capacity is currently estimated to stand at around 30 gigawatts and has been rapidly growing. Only this year, China is supposed to add five gigawatts, aiming for its ambitious 100 gigawatt target in 2020.
China is currently the world’s most active investor into renewable energy generation. Only ten years ago there was barely 70 megawatts worth of solar power plants in China.