A Chinese company announced it has brought the world’s second-largest solar farm into commercial operation. Sungrow, which supplies inverters for renewable energy projects, and the state-owned utility Huanghe Hydropower Development on Oct. 9 said a 2.2-GW capacity solar park in the northwest province of Qinghai is now online.
The Qinghai project trails only the 2.3-GW Bhadla solar park in India, which covers more than 10,000 acres and was completed late last year, in generation capacity.
The largest operating solar farm in the U.S. is the 579-MW Solar Star installation in California, which came online in 2015 and at the time was the largest solar array in the world. A larger U.S. project, the 690-MW Gemini solar and battery storage installation in Nevada, was approved earlier this year and is scheduled to be operational by year-end 2023.
Site Includes Energy Storage
The Qinghai project, which also includes 202.86 MWh of energy storage capacity, is located in the desert near the city of Xining. The installation, which was completed in September, is connected to an 800-kV transmission line that runs 986 miles from Qinghai across that province and three others—Gansu, Shaanxi, and Henan—and is expected to provide power to cities in the east and south of China, including Shanghai and Beijing.
Sungrow in a news release said, “The ultra-high voltage power line in China is set to maximize the consumption of renewable energy as the solar resources deployed unevenly by region, significantly fueling the transition to a low carbon economy for eastern China and facilitating the western economic growth.”
The Chinese government has a plan to build what it calls the world’s largest supergrid, connecting six regional grids in the country and carrying power from renewable resources in the western part of the country to the east. Chinese President Xi Jinping in September, in an address to the United Nations during Climate Week NYC 2020, said he wants China to be carbon-neutral by 2060, although the country continues to build new coal-fired power plants.
According to Global Energy Monitor, China in 2020 has proposed to build more than 40 GW of new coal-fired units.
$5 Trillion in Clean Energy Investment
Analysts have said China, the world’s leading emitter of carbon, will need to invest more than $5 trillion in cleaner energy and carbon-reduction technologies to meet its 2060 target.
Developers of renewable energy projects in China are ramping up efforts to move their installations forward. Delays from the coronavirus pandemic have slowed the government’s plan to have solar and wind power compete with coal generation on prices.
Sungrow, founded in 1997, said its inverters are installed in projects with more than 120 GW of generation capacity worldwide, including utility-scale, commercial, and residential arrays. The company said it has a global solar market share of more than 15%.
Huanghe Hydropower is a leading renewable energy company in China, and has led the country’s innovation of solar-plus-storage technology. A Huanghe spokesperson, commenting on the Qinghai project, said, “We value Sungrow ’s compelling global PV [photovoltaic] and energy storage track records and professionalism of the team. In this landmark project, Sungrow is the first-ever company to pass the functional test of the synergizing control of both PV and energy storage system in regard of the energy management system.”
—Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).