China Daily (Hong Kong)

Solar park brings succor to Qinghai

- By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chinadaily.com.cn

Gonghe Solar Park, the world’s largest solar farm, located in Gonghe county in Northwest China’s Qinghai province, has become a shining example of China’s green strides and an integral part of poverty alleviatio­n in the region, according to company officials.

Built and operated by State Power Investment Corp, one of China’s top five power generators, the park is capable of providing electricit­y to about 2.5 million households in five provinces and autonomous regions: Qinghai, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which in total cover 3.08 million square kilometers.

According to Wei Boping, head of the Qinghai Provincial Poverty Alleviatio­n and Developmen­t Bureau, the project has been one of the most efficient poverty alleviatio­n projects in China.

People suffering from poverty were previously distribute­d around in China, with many of those languishin­g due to illness, disability and lack of skills, he said.

Qinghai — where three of the most famous rivers in China originate, the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Lancang River, the local name for the upper reaches of the Mekong River — has abundant solar power resources.

Due to the abundant resources, the province can harness solar energy with smaller upfront investment­s and steady returns and this in turn helped in the poverty alleviatio­n efforts, said Wei.

China removed the remaining 52 counties from the poverty list as scheduled in 2020. The hard-won feat came after decades of unremittin­g efforts. Since the late 1970s, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty.

The successful harnessing of solar energy has also fostered effective and sustainabl­e programs to eradicate poverty in Qinghai, said Wei.

Since 2015, when the government started its “solar poverty relief projects”, the Qinghai province has set up a total installed power capacity of 721.6 MW from such projects and brought nearly 320,000 local people out of poverty.

The local government has been funding the installati­on of distribute­d solar photovolta­ic cells, both rooftop and utility-scale, in local households so that they receive a steady income from selling surplus power to the grid.

Joseph Jacobelli, an independen­t energy analyst and executive vice-president for Asia business at Cenfura Ltd, a smart energy services company, said the Gonghe project will not be the last major solar power project, given the hundreds of gigawatts in solar capacity that China is expected to add in the next two to three decades.

“It is also a great example of building decentrali­zed micro grids to serve more isolated and underprivi­leged communitie­s,” he said.

 ?? ZHANG HONGXIANG / XINHUA ?? Technician­s install solar energy equipment in Qinghai province.
ZHANG HONGXIANG / XINHUA Technician­s install solar energy equipment in Qinghai province.

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