Tibet may be the home of a world spiritual leader, but it isn’t all about spirituality: the Chinese autonomous region has been using solar energy since the 80’s and has a solar potential of about 3,000 hours of solar radiation per year. Its annual input of 9 MW of energy secures 13% of China’s total production.
The added production is meant to ease the region’s electricity needs. 200,000 households living in the area depend heavily on solar energy: they need to run 400,000 stoves/electric appliances, to provide heat and electricity for 10,000 square meters. So the 100 MW are expected to meet these demands by the beginning of 2012.
The construction of the solar power plants costs 2 billion yuan ($308 million) and is off to a good start, since the first brick of the 30 MW plant in the Xigaze Prefecture has already been laid. If the plant is ready before June, then an important step has been taken: a production of 20.23 million kWh is insured each year.
A parallel project is going on in Yangbajing, a northern town near the Lhasa capital: the photovoltaic generation plant will have a capacity of 10 MW. The plant is set to produce 430 million kWh over a 25-year period.
The people in Tibet are very excited about the project, especially about the financial aspect: they don’t have to pay a penny (yuan) for it! On the other hand, the Tibetan regional government sees the bigger picture: it can spare the use of more than 162,800 tones of coal each year. China won’t stop here, since it plans to introduce a 5 million KWh capacity by 2015 and 20 million by 2020. I guess i’s safe to say China is unstoppable!