China Brings World's Largest Solar Power Plant Online

The state-owned Power Construction Corp. of China has brought a 5-GW solar power plant into commercial operation, with the project taking over as the world’s largest operating photovoltaic (PV) facility.

The solar park, which entered service on June 3, is located in a desert area of the northwestern China province of Xinjiang, near the provincial capital of Urumqi. It sits on about 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres). The new facility surpasses the generation capacity of the world’s next two largest solar farms: the 3-GW Ningxia Tenggeli, built by Longyuan Power Group, and the 3-GW Golmud Wutumeiren, built by China Lufa Qinghai New Energy. Both those facilities also are in western China.

China is the world leader in renewable energy generation capacity, including solar power. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2023 annual report said the country’s additions of solar increased by 116% from 2022 to 2023. The agency said solar power accounted for about 75% of new renewable energy capacity that came online worldwide over the past year, and noted that China commissioned as much PV capacity in 2022 as the rest of the world combined.

The IEA report said, “China accounts for almost 60% of new renewable capacity expected to become operational globally by 2028. China’s role is critical in reaching the global goal of tripling renewables because the country is expected to install more than half of the new capacity required globally by 2030. At the end of the forecast period, almost half of China’s electricity generation will come from renewable energy sources.”

Power Construction Corp. said the Xinjiang facility will generate about 6.1 billion kWh of electricity annually.

Xinjiang province is a sparsely populated area of China that is known for its solar and wind power resources, and home to what China calls “megabase projects.” The region is a hub for Chinese renewable energy installations, with much of the electricity sent across the country to the more-populated areas in the eastern part of China. The megabase projects, first announced in 2021, are part of China’s plan to install 455 GW of solar and wind power over the next several years.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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