The world’s second-largest solar farm, 2.2Gw plant, has come online in China’s
Qinghai Province. The unveiling comes shortly after President Xi Jinping told the
United Nations Annual General assembly that China plans to go carbon neutral by
The plant, in China’s sparsely populated northwest region, took around four months to complete. Qinghai’s solar farm will produce electricity for China’s populous eastern regions where energy demand is far higher – only India’s Bhadla Park has a larger gigawatt capacity.
The complex will also produce wind and hydro energy for mainland China. The
plant has a central energy storage hub with a capacity of 202.86MWh. The
Qinghai farm will form one part of China’s proposed renewable energy ”super
grid” in west China.
China’s transition to cleaner energy has been fast. At the start of the millennium, the country had no solar panel installations of significant capacity. China is now producing clean solar energy more cheaply than traditional methods in 344 cities, according to a report last year from US news company, CNN. Research institution, Woods Mackenzie, predicts that solar panel installation in China will reach a capacity of 370GW direct current by 2024.
The Qinghai solar farm opening was preceded by the completion of China’s largest offshore wind farm in the East China Sea, near Jiangsu. The wind farm, the first offshore farm in China, contributes 860Kw hours a year from 67 turbines to China’s clean energy tally.
Though China’s many new energy infrastructure projects are going a long way to fulfil Xi’s UNGA pledge, analysts are sceptical of solar, hydro, and wind power offsetting the nation’s appetite for coal in the push for neutrality. China is responsible for roughly 28% of the globe’s carbon emissions and fossil fuel still accounts for around 58% of China’s energy production, according to Science Magazine.
Greenpeace China’s policy advisor, Li Shuo, said China must stop the construction of new coal-powered plants and continue to decommission older plants if it hopes to reach carbon-neutrality in four decades, says Fortune.
President Xi Jinping has not yet outlined concrete plans to achieve his lofty goal. At the moment, policymakers in China are drawing up the nation’s next five-year plan that will outline China’s economic and social development plans until 2025.
Woods Mackenzie expects wind, solar, hydro, electric vehicles and green hydrogen to feature prominently when the plan is released in March.