Re­new­able en­ergy closes gap on use of fos­sil fuel

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By AL­PHA DAFFAE SENKPENI in Ho­hhot

Re­new­able en­ergy is grad­u­ally re­duc­ing the heavy de­pen­dence on tra­di­tional power sup­ply in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion as 30 per­cent of the to­tal power grid is now be­ing gen­er­ated from so­lar and wind en­ergy.

The cut in coal-fired en­ergy is a sig­nif­i­cant progress for the re­gion, ex­perts say.

Elion Re­sources Group and Bei­jing En­ergy Com­pany are pour­ing bil­lions into the sec­tor, mak­ing green power hit new heights in the north­ern Chi­nese re­gion.

In 2013 the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment im­posed a ban on the con­struc­tion

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of new coal plants in three in­dus­trial re­gions, and in 2014 it set a na­tional ob­jec­tive of re­duc­ing the use of coal in 12 prov­inces and re­gions be­fore the end of 2017.

With­out hy­dro power sup­ply, the au­ton­o­mous re­gion re­lied only on coal power un­til the emer­gence and suc­cess of its re­new­able en­ergy projects. In 2016, the to­tal out­put of coal power pro­duc­tion amounted to 845.5 mil­lion met­ric tons.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ment said 30 per­cent re­new­able en­ergy now com­pli­ments the to­tal en­ergy grid with wind power ac­count­ing for 25.56 mil­lion kilowatts in­stalled ca­pac­ity from a to­tal out­put of 46.4 mil­lion kilowatts. This is 17 per­cent of the to­tal wind power ca­pac­ity of the en­tire coun­try.

A wind power farm lo­cated in Khuitenxil, 135 km from Ho­hhot, con­trib­utes 260 megawatts to the re­gion’s power grid.

The project by Bei­jing En­ergy Co was launched last Novem­ber, and has 144 gi­ant wind fans cov­er­ing more than 50 square kilo­me­ters.

The tech­ni­cal­ity of its power gen­er­a­tion sys­tem is mon­i­tor on sight, con­verted into 3.5 kilowatts and then to 220 kilo­volts be­fore sup­ply to end users, an en­gi­neer work­ing for Bei­jing En­ergy Co told a group of African jour­nal­ists dur­ing a re­cent tour of the fa­cil­ity.

Mean­while, the re­gion’s in­stalled pho­to­voltaic power ca­pac­ity has also reached 6.36 mil­lion kilo­hertz from an out­put ca­pac­ity of 8.3 bil­lion kilo­hertz.

By the end of 2016, Elion Re­sources Group said, it had in­vested about $146.9 mil­lion in the project with 650,000 so­lar pan­els cov­er­ing 9,000 hectares in the Khubchi Desert.

The so­lar en­ergy project by the pri­vate Chi­nese firm, also heav­ily in­vest­ing in eco­log­i­cal restora­tion in Khubchi Desert, has the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate 1,000 megawatts of so­lar en­ergy, but for now 310 megawatts is be­ing gen­er­ated with 350,000 kilowatts pro­duced per hour.

“This is part of our poverty al­le­vi­a­tion project here be­cause we sub lease the land from the own­ers for this so­lar panel field and also cre­ate 1,000 new jobs for them — house­holds are con­tracted to clean un­der these so­lar pan­els,” said Zhao Yong, vice-pres­i­dent of Elion Re­sources.

“We are look­ing to in­stall more so­lar pan­els across more land space to sup­ply more power to the na­tional power grid but this will be based on the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval,” Zhao said.

It took In­ner Mon­go­lia al­most 10 years to ac­quire this amount of re­new­able en­ergy, and ex­perts work­ing in the sec­tor said a com­plete tran­si­tion to green en­ergy must be done metic­u­lously.

The shift to cleaner en­ergy in In­ner Mon­go­lia is part of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). The mo­men­tum now epit­o­mizes the im­pact of cleaner en­ergy on re­duc­ing the ca­pac­ity of coal power plants at 1,100 GW by the end of 2020.

Ten ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal tar­gets have been set in the strat­egy, in­clud­ing en­ergy con­sump­tion per unit of GDP and emis­sion lev­els of Co2 per unit of GDP.

The coun­try’s coal en­ergy con­sump­tion also dropped by 4.7 per­cent by the end of 2016, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics, while the cen­tral gov­ern­ment pledged to fur­ther re­duce it by 50 mil­lion kilowatts and shift to more re­new­able and clean en­ergy.

Al­pha Daffae Senkpeni is a jour­nal­ist with Front­Page Africa, based in Liberia, who is vis­it­ing China Daily as part of a 10-month China-Africa Press Cen­tre fel­low­ship

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