How China's Large-scale Photovoltaic Power Plants Change The World's Energy Landscape

- Oct 12, 2018-

Reference News Network reported on September 20 British media said that at present, there are several large-scale photovoltaic power plants under construction around the world, many inIndia. As the completion of the project is approaching, countries will compete for the title of "the world's largest photovoltaic base." Many will have direct links withChina.

 

According to the BBC Chinese website reported on September 17, when flying over Datong County in North China, you will see two giant pandas, one of which is still beckoning to you. They are made up of thousands of solar panels.

 

The two giant pandas, together with the solar panels next to them, formed a photovoltaic power station with an installed capacity of 100 megawatts and covering an area of 248 hectares.

 

The project was initiated by Panda Green Energy. According to the documents provided by the company, “the shape of the PV power plant was designed and built according to the Chinese National Treasure Panda.”

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One of the two giant pandas is beckoning to you. They are made up of thousands of solar panels. (BBC Chinese Network)

 

According to the report,China's photovoltaic power generation capacity ranks first in the world, reaching 130 GW. Assuming that electricity is generated at the same time, it is enough for several British uses.Chinahas many large-scale photovoltaic power plants, including the Longyangxia Dam Power Station on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with a total installed capacity of 850 MW and 4 million solar panels. At present, the world's largest photovoltaic power station is located inChina's Tengger Desert with a total installed capacity of more than 1,500 MW.

 

More than 60% of global solar panels are made inChina

 

These projects cost millions of dollars to achieve their clean energy goals. WillChinacontinue to build such large-scale photovoltaic power plants?

 

According to the report, Yvonne Liu of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research organization, pointed out thatChinais the world's largest solar panel manufacturer. “The market is really big,” she said. “This is the government’s industrial policy.” According to the International Energy Agency, more than 60% of the world’s solar panels are made inChina. Therefore, ensuring high demand for solar panels is an economic benefit to the government.

 

In addition, government departments will also be praised for increasing renewable energy. About two-thirds ofChina's electricity use is still coal-fired, and optimizingChina's energy mix is a key policy goal.

 

According to the report, the vast plains of North China and Northwest China have strong sunshine, the land used for the construction of the station is vast, the solar energy resources are quite stable, and the construction is also drastically advanced. The International Energy Agency believes thatChinacan complete the new installed capacity target for solar photovoltaic power generation set in 2020 three years ahead of schedule.

 

The report said that the construction of super large photovoltaic power plants in remote areas also has its drawbacks. In order to understand the reasons, we need to look atChinafrom the air again. In 1935, geographer Hu Huanyong drew the famous "Hu Huanyong Line", which dividedChinafrom northeast to south-central. The areas on either side of the line are roughly equal, but the population density is very different. 94% ofChina's population live east of the line, and the remaining 6% are west of the line.

 

Wind and photovoltaic resources are completely opposite

 

Xu Yuan of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said, "The distribution of wind and photovoltaic resources inChinais completely opposite."

 

According to the report, many PV power plants in China are far apart from the major cities where useful electricity is needed, resulting in a relatively low capacity factor (capacity factor refers to the actual energy generation as a percentage of the theoretical maximum power generation).

 

Xu Yuan quoted data from the China Electricity Council, saying that in the first half of 2018, the capacity factor ofChina's photovoltaic equipment was only 14.7%. That is to say, if the installed capacity of a photovoltaic power station is 200 megawatts, the actual use of electricity is less than one-sixth.

 

According to the report, the reasons for the low capacity factor include factors that are beyond control, such as weather. But inChina, the factor is unusually low. Xu Yuan said that due in part to the loss of electrical energy in the transmission line, the number of kilometers connecting the remote power station to the power transmission area is considerable. "The location of the power station and the location of the power supply are seriously mismatched."

 

Bol of Stanford University's Steyr Taylor Energy Policy and Finance Center said thatChinahas been improving transmission line technology and working hard to solve this problem. This includes the development of DC power lines with high power transmission.

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 Ningxia Zhongwei Desert Photovoltaic Industrial Park Photovoltaic Power Station (September 7 drone shooting). (Xinhua News Agency)

 

The report said that there is another problem affecting the Chinese solar industry. In May, the government lifted financial subsidies that were crucial for large-scale PV projects, meaning that development projects would cost even more.

 

As a result, Ms. Liu said that energy investors will switch from large solar power plants in remote areas to other projects, such as building solar panels on the roofs of big cities or selling electricity directly to customers – currently in the eyes of some Both are more promising. As these projects expand, customers can be accumulated, and in theory the flow of funds will improve, especially in view of the cancellation of subsidies for large solar parks.

 

Large-scale overseas PV power plants are huge

 

According to the report, Ms. Liu, Bor and Xu Yuan believe that the super-large photovoltaic power plants will continue to be built, whether in China or in other countries.

 

Bor said: "It must be realized thatChina's influence here refers not only to its large-scale solar power plants developed inChina, but also to large-scale photovoltaic power projects built overseas."

 

According to the report, there are currently several large-scale photovoltaic power plants under construction around the world, many inIndia. As the completion of the project is approaching, countries will compete for the title of "the world's largest photovoltaic base." Many will have direct links withChina, such as the Egyptian solar park.

 

The solar park covers an area of 37 square kilometers, and the power generation capacity is expected to be 1600 MW to 2,000 MW. The investment scale is large. A contractor currently involved in the project is fromChina.

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 This is the Liancun Photovoltaic Power Station in Qiaojiatun Village, Dujiaqu Town, Loufan County (September 4, drone shooting).

 

The Panda Green Energy Group has built a black and white panda-like solar power station in Datong and will build more inChina. This is the goal of the group's "Panda 100 Plan". The design team even selected two different colors of solar panels to present the image of the giant panda.

 

The group also intends to build eye-catching solar industry parks in other countries – including the “Panda + Rugby” design inFijiand the “Panda + Maple Leaf” power station inCanada.

 

According to the report, Ms. Liu pointed out that the price of solar panels is getting lower and lower. It may take a few years forChinato cut its financial subsidies to become irrelevant – solar energy is too cheap and cheap, and investors cannot turn a blind eye. She said that in the next three to five years, solar energy will achieve parity, and investors will have no subsidies and confidence.

 

Bor also said that whether or not subsidies are provided, the huge attractiveness of cheap solar energy may increase the number of large power stations in the next few years. “No matter how ambitious the current PV power plant looks, there will be more and more such projects, and the scale will continue to escalate.”