Power & Energy

New Chinese solar power facility reduces cost of generation by coal

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China recently added two 500-megawatt solar power plants to its sources of electricity, thereby undercutting costs of traditional coal power. According to the press agency Xinhua, one of the projects, located at Golmud and developed by the China Three Gorges Corporation, will provide power at 0.316 yuan per kilowatt-hour (kWh) or approximately five U.S. cents. This is below the standard price of 0.325 yuan for coal power in the country. Such an all-time low price could act as a motivating factor for the utilities sector to decarbonize the electricity network of the country.

Both plants were part of an exhibition programme in the Mongolian-Tibetan sovereign prefecture of Haixi and will be in charge of the government body National Energy Administration, which formulates and delivers energy policies. China limited its funds for wide-scale solar projects by May 2018 but promised support to the projects under the alleged Top Runner scheme, as well as facilities for the Poverty Alleviation scheme through 2019. While the thirteenth fiver-year plan has set the total coal power capacity at 1100GW, present coal power potential is 993GW and construction for more than 250GW is underway.

The country’s electricity network, however, itself poses problems of hindering investment in generation of clean energy, a situation that is acknowledged by officials. Government statistics showing rejection of thirty-nine percent available solar power by Xinjiang in early 2017 and wastage of nineteen percent of the same by neighbouring province Gansu is proof of the fact. Documents stating increased leadership responsibilities and grid law enforcement in the provinces could address the problem of large-scale solar projects being frequently halted.

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