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China Huaneng Starts 9.1b Yuan Solar Project

Eric Ng, SCMP – Updated on Dec 10, 2008

China Huaneng Group, the parent company of listed Huaneng Power International, has begun building the mainland’s largest solar energy pilot project at an estimated cost of 9.1 billion yuan (HK$10.26 billion).

The project in Yunnan province will be built in co-operation with Yunnan Provincial Power Investment, although shareholding details were not provided in a statement by China Huaneng.

“The project’s construction will provide a platform to develop large-scale photovoltaic power generation engineering, design and construction,” the group said.

The project will consist of 100 megawatts (MW) of solar power units to be used for research and development and 66 MW of “showcase” units targeted at students and tourists.

One megawatt can power 400 to 800 homes, depending on energy usage.

The mainland is targeting to raise renewable energy’s share in the consumption pie to 16 per cent by 2020 from 8 per cent.

Of the target, Beijing aims to raise the national solar energy generation capacity to 300 MW by 2010 and 1,800 MW by 2020, from 65 MW this year.

Part of this will be achieved by installing 20,000 roof-top solar power panels in the country’s coastal cities by 2020, with a total capacity of 1,000 MW.

Another 200 MW will come from large-scale panel installations in waste land in the country’s sparsely populated western regions, 300 MW from small-scale installations in remote areas in these regions and a further 200 MW from solar heat-generating units.

The remaining 100 MW will come from solar panel installations near telecommunications infrastructure, long-distance pipelines, railways and highways to tap the commercial market.

Solar power is virtually inexhaustible and is a free fuel with zero pollution, but analysts said the high cost of solar power generators meant large-scale commercial exploitation will not happen at least in the next decade on the mainland.

Low coal and power prices also present a challenge for developers.

Still, the mainland is the world’s largest consumer and producer of solar water heaters.

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