China Daily:Powering to a cleaner and greener future
A worker checks photovoltaic equipment at a solar power farm in Hainan Tibet autonomous prefecture, Qinghai province.[Photo/Xinhua]
After three successful trials to supply its 6 million residents with clean energy, the province is now gearing up to help the rest of the country
Editor's note: As the People's Republic of China prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary on Oct 1, China Daily is featuring a series of stories on the role regions have played in the country's development and where they are today.
Qinghai province set a record in June, when for 360 consecutive hours its 6 million residents used nothing but clean energy-generated from wind, solar and hydropower stations.
Running from June 9 to midnight on June 23, it was the third clean energy trial involving the whole province. In June 2017, it successfully finished a seven-day stretch, which beat Portugal's 107-hour clean energy effort, and in June last year it relied solely on renewable energy for nine consecutive days.
The trials are part of China's transition toward a low-carbon future to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and achieve better air quality.
Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, dubbed "the roof of the world", Qinghai is pioneering China's commitment to a cleaner future with strong hydro and solar power capacity.
According to the State Grid of China's Qinghai branch, clean energy consumption during the 15 days totaled 2.84 billion kilowatt-hours, equivalent to coal use of 1.29 million metric tons, and a 2.32 million-ton cut in emissions of carbon dioxide.
[Mukesh Mohanan/China Daily]
During the nine-day trial last year, total electricity consumption was 1.76 billion kWhs, which cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.44 million tons.
The daily electricity generated from solar and wind energy sources during the 15-day period reached 78 million kWhs, an increase of 47 percent from the 9-day trial.
Around 2 percent of the power generated during the period was from coal-fired plants-the minimal amount required to stabilize the grid in case of fluctuations and to avoid damaging electrical infrastructure.
Qi Taiyuan, general manager of State Grid Qinghai Electric, said during the 15-day period, besides fulfilling Qinghai's electricity needs, it also supplied 1.068 billion kWhs to other provinces and cities including Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi and Shanghai.
Qi said that clean energy consumption involves many aspects, including the power source, power grid, users and technological research and development.
The 15-day trial was the culmination of building a clean low-carbon, modern energy system, which is safe and efficient.
Li Qing, deputy president of the Qinghai Federation of Industry and Commerce, thinks the advantage of developing clean energy in Qinghai is that more than 86 percent of the province's power sources are clean electricity.
The power grid also has the capacity to gather clean electricity from Gansu province and the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions and transfer it to other provinces.
The province is also conducting experiments on other alternative energy sources, Li said.
Qinghai started developing its new energy industry in 2009, with the aim of taking advantage of its abundant solar power resources.
Delingha has more than 3,500 hours of sunlight every year. It is becoming a solar-thermal capital with many solar farms being built. A new 50-megawatt solar-thermal project is under construction in Delingha Industrial Park.
According to Li Gang, manager of the project, it can generate 0.2 billion kWs each year, which saves 60,000 tons of coal and cuts emissions of 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
In Gonghe county, the Longyangxia hydropower station is located next to a photovoltaic power plant. It's the world's largest integration of solar and hydro power generation.
Sheep graze on the grassland in Qilian county, Qinghai province. [Photo/Xinhua]
Qinghai is China's largest solar photovoltaic power generation base.
In February last year, Qinghai was approved as one of the six provincial-level regions to spearhead clean energy development by the National Energy Administration, together with Zhejiang, Sichuan, Gansu, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and the Tibet autonomous region.
Last year, the electricity generated by clean energy in Qinghai reached 16.86 billion kWhs, with 3.76 billion kWhs transmitted to other places. The consumption of non-fossil fuels in Qinghai reached around 40 percent of all energy sources, much higher than the national average of 14 percent.
The Qinghai Clean Energy Research and Development Institute, founded in March, aims to push cooperation between the government, companies, schools and scientific research institutions on clean energy.
A power line to transfer clean energy from Qinghai to Zhumadian, Henan province, will come into use next year.
According to Qinghai's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the province will expand its new energy capacity to supply 110 billion kWhs of clean electricity every year to central and eastern parts of China, preventing the burning of 50 million tons of coal by 2020.
Qinghai is the source of China's three major rivers, the Yellow, Yangtze and Lancang and has strong hydro and solar power facilities to serve its 6 million people.
Sanjiangyuan is home to the head waters of the three rivers. In recent years, the government has injected more than 2.25 billion yuan ($327 million) into environmental protection and restoration.
Grassland vegetation cover increased by 27 percent last year. Biodiversity increased along with the population of wild animals. The number of Tibetan antelopes rose to more than 70,000 from less than 20,000 in 1980s. The Sanjiangyuan park is set to open in 2020.