CGN Solar Energy Development Co. recently inked 12-billion-yuan cooperation agreement with Jiuquan in Gansu to develop a 300 MW solar thermal power generation project, according to report by the local newpaper.
CGN Solar Energy Development Co. recently inked 12-billion-yuan cooperation agreement with Jiuquan in Gansu to develop a 300 MW solar thermal power generation project, according to report by the local newpaper Jiuquan Daily.
China Datang New Energy Co, subsidiary of one of China ‘s power giant China Datang Group, is very likely to win the bidding for a 50MW solar thermal power generation demonstration project in Inner Mongolia at a low bidding price lower than other rivals, disclosed an insider with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp. So far, the final result of the bidding hasn’t come out yet, According to Xinhua News Agency.
As it moves rapidly to become the world’s leader in wind energy and photovoltaic solar panels, China is taking tentative steps to master another alternative energy industry: using mirrors to capture sunlight, produce steam and generate electricity.
So-called concentrating solar power uses hundreds of thousands of mirrors to turn water into steam. The steam turns a conventional turbine similar to those in coal-fired power plants. The technology, which is potentially cheaper than most types of renewable power, has captivated many engineers and financiers in the last two years, with an abrupt surge in new patents and plans for large power operations in Spain and the United States.
This year may be China’s turn. China is starting to build its own concentrating solar power plants, a technology more associated with California deserts than China’s countryside. And Chinese manufacturers are starting to think about exports, part of China’s effort to become the world’s main provider of alternative energy power equipment.
Yet concentrating solar power still faces formidable obstacles, including government officials who are skeptical that the technology will be useful on a large scale in China.
Much of the country is cloudy or smoggy. Water is scarce. The sunniest places left for solar power are deserts deep in the interior, far from the energy-hungry coastal provinces that consume most of China’s electricity. Provinces deep in the interior have few skilled workers or engineers to maintain the automated gear that keeps mirrors focused on towers that transfer the heat from sunbeams into fluids.
Yet the private sector in China is racing to embrace the technology anyway. A California solar technology company and a Chinese power equipment manufacturer sign a deal for the construction of up to 2,000 megawatts of power plants using concentrating solar power over the next decade. That is equivalent to the output of a couple of nuclear power plants. They will start with a 92-megawatt plant in Yulin, a town in a semi-desert area of Shaanxi Province in central China.
The Chinese equipment manufacturer, Penglai Electric, hopes to work with other Chinese manufacturers to drive production costs down precipitously, clearing the way for exports, although these would require further approval from the California licensor of the technology, eSolar.
Eric Wang, the senior vice president for international business development at Penglai Electric, said that manufacturing mirrors, turbines, towers and other equipment in China instead of the United States could cut costs by at least half. That could make concentrating solar power more competitive with other forms of power generation around the world.
China’s Ministry of Science, the Beijing municipal government and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are already building Asia’s first concentrating solar power plant on the outskirts of Beijing, although it is only a pilot operation to generate 1.5 megawatts.
Preparations are also under way for the construction of a 50-megawatt concentrating solar power plant in Gansu Province in northwestern China, said Min Deqing, a renewable energy consultant in Lanzhou, the provincial capital of Gansu.
But while wind energy and photovoltaic solar panels have strong backing from China’s political leaders and enormous financing by government-owned banks, concentrating solar power still faces deep-rooted skepticism in senior ranks of the government.
Despite the government’s skepticism, renewable energy investors remain enthusiastic about the potential for concentrating solar power projects in China. K. K. Chan, the chief executive of Nature Elements Capital, a renewable energy investment fund in Beijing, said that he had been looking at such deals in recent months after concluding that the valuations for photovoltaic solar projects were unreasonably high, possibly because that technology had such strong government backing.
Mr. Min in Lanzhou said that while there was little data yet on the cost of concentrating solar power, the price tag was likely to fall in China. “Eventually, when 100 percent domestically produced mirrors are used,” he said, “the cost will be lower than solar panel power plants.”