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September 4, 2019

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Qinghai desert turns ‘green’

A LARGE semi-desert in northwest China’s Qinghai Province is turning green, thanks to a photovoltaic park.

The semi-desert, located in Gonghe County in the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, sits at an altitude of 2,920 meters and attracted one of the largest photovoltaic power generation parks in the country in 2012 because of its strong light radiation and long sunshine duration of eight hours per day.

With an investment of 45 billion yuan (US$6.29 billion), the photovoltaic park covers an area of 609 square kilometers and has an installed capacity totaling over 19 million kilowatts, said Tu Xinpeng, deputy head of the management committee of green industry development parks in the prefecture.

The park has also brought about unexpected ecological improvement to the semi-desert. A vast expanse of solar panels in the park shadow the surface of the semi-desert, which helps lower wind speed and reduce evaporation, increasing the vegetation coverage in the semi-desert.

The maximum wind speed and the evaporation rate in the park have been reduced by about 22 percent and 30 percent respectively, said Huanghe Hydropower Development Co Ltd, which built the park.

Considering fire hazards due to the overgrowth of grass, the park started to employ local herdsmen to pasture thousands of sheep.

“The park offers local residents more than 1,000 jobs including herding, reaping pastures and cleaning solar panels,” said Huan Xingsheng, deputy director of the maintenance department of the Huanghe photovoltaic equipment maintenance company.

China’s renewable energy generation rose 14 percent in the first half of the year from the same period last year to 887.9 billion kwh.

Of the total, solar photovoltaic power topped 106.7 billion kwh, up 30 percent year on year.


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