|April 09, 2012|
Chinese Coal City Switching to Solar
|The Chinese city Datong, despite being known for its coal resources, is transforming into a solar power center.|
"During the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, we have 432 projects with a total investment of 536.4 billion yuan ($84.8 billion) to help the city's transformation from a high-carbon city into a low-carbon one," said Geng Yanbo, mayor of the city.
Solar Power Projects in Datong
By the end of 2015, Yanbo intends to have the city getting 25% of its electricity from clean energy. One 20-MW PV solar power plant has been under construction since late 2011. Golden Concord Holdings, one of the world's largest polysilicon manufacturers, is also looking to build a 500-MW and a 300-MW solar power plant, the second with Foxconn Technology Group.
The city isn't only looking to get its power from clean energy, though --- it's also looking to become a major solar component manufacturer. "Construction of a polysilicon factory with an annual production capacity of 25,000 tons" is starting this month, China Daily writes. This is another Golden Concord project. In total, Golden Concord is investing 14.68 billion yuan in five solar energy projects in Datong.
Of course, Datong is rich in solar energy potential. All in all, it's projected to have about 10 GW of solar potential. The city "is located on the northeast side of the Loess Plateau at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 meters and enjoys on average 2,800 hours of sunshine a year."
Solar Decathlon Coming to Datong
Datong will also hold a Solar Decathlon in August. Yes, the US Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Solar Decathlon --- "During President Hu Jintao's visit to the US early last year, China's National Energy Administration signed an agreement with the US energy department and decided to hold a Solar Decathlon in China for the first time."
US-China Solar Trade Issues
And what does Geng think about the US anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigations and their potential impact on Chinese solar companies like Golden Concord? He;s not phased, and even sees it as an opportunity.
"The cost of polysilicon has been falling in recent years and the scale of solar panel exports is being harmed by the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigations started by the United States. But these factors will help open up the domestic market," he said. "It is a good time and opportunity for industry insiders and policymakers to think again about the domestic solar power market."