Sun To Power Western China
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/02/26; February 26, 2002.]
China will spend 2 billion yuan (US$241.5 million) to support the use of solar energy in western China, said Qi Chengyuan, vice-director of the High-tech Department of the State Development Planning Commission. The financial boost, expected to start soon and last for up to three years, will help light up regions that cannot be reached by the country's power transmission network.
"The fund will serve as a governmental allowance for local residents, most of whom are not rich, to buy solar energy equipment to generate electricity for daily use," Qi said.
The target areas include sunny regions such as the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Shaanxi Province. They each receive more than 3,000 hours of sunshine each year.
Qi said it is time for China to expand its use of solar energy.
"After five years of effort, solar energy has been widely accepted as affordable clean energy that can be conveniently used in daily life, not just something imagined in science fiction," he said.
China can use solar energy to produce 15 megawatts (mw) of electricity every year. The adoption of solar energy equipment has been increasing at an average annual growth rate of 30 per cent in the last five years.
Thanks to the development of solar energy, people in seven remote counties of the Tibet Autonomous Region can now use washing machines, watch television and listen to radios.
And solar energy will be accessible to even more people because the cost of solar equipment is being reduced. Qi said his commission's demonstration project in Baoding in North China's Hebei Province will be ready in June. It should be capable of an annual production capacity of 3 mw polycrystalline silicon solar cells, as well as their application systems, when completed.
The designed output capacity is equal to the total of other Chinese producers of solar cells.
And the undertaker of the project, Yingli New Resources Co Ltd, has new partners, allowing it to expand its annual output capacity to 26 mw, thus ranking it among the top 10 solar energy equipment producers worldwide.
"Larger production scale means cheaper products," Qi said. "Domestic solar energy products are cheaper than comparable foreign products."
Qi welcomed all interested parties to participate in the development of solar energy in China.
"Such projects can win infrastructure construction loans from banks at low interest. And those of a scale larger than 3 million kilowatts will even see 2 per cent of their loan interests waived," Qi said.
"Whenever possible, administrations involved must allow electricity produced from solar energy to use established electricity networks for transportation."
With all this development and support from the government, Huang Yicheng, director of the China Energy Study Society, said he is confident that the cost of generating electricity with solar energy will be cheaper than burning coal in a decade. "China's use of solar energy will increase by up to 30 per cent each year for the next 10 years," Huang said.
"When the world expects to have solar energy as its one major energy source by 2050, China won't be lagging behind."
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