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UPDATED: April 17, 2012
Tibet's Second-Largest City Builds Leading Solar Power Base

A leading solar photovoltaic power generation base is being built in Xigaze, the second-largest city in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, to ease winter power shortages by harnessing the area's ample sunshine.

Xigaze residents are expecting to bid farewell to blackouts this year, thanks to a newly-operational 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) generation plant at a PV industrial park located about 3 km northwest of Xigaze City proper.

The plant is the first phase of a massive PV project constructed by Linuo Power Group, which is based in eastern Shandong Province.

At least two other solar PV generation projects are under construction at the same park, including a 60-megawatt project sponsored by LDK Solar, based in the eastern Jiangxi Province, and a 10-megawatt PV generation station by Chaorisolar, headquartered in Shanghai, said Wang Xijing, a top official in Xigaze.

"The combined capacity of the city's PV industry has therefore reached 100-megawatts, the largest in China," said Wang, secretary of Xigaze's committee of the Communist Party of China.

Photovoltaic power generation is a method of generating electric power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity by using semiconductors.

Tibet has abundant solar energy resources, with an average of 3,000 hours of solar radiation annually, or about 6,000 to 8,000 megajoules per square meter.

Xigaze, with an average 3,183 hours of annual solar radiation and at least 4.67 square km of usable wasteland, is an ideal location for building solar battery arrays, said Wang.

He said the city plans to expand cooperation with leading Chinese energy firms to seek further development in the photovoltaic and thermal power generation sectors.

Over the past 60 years, Tibet has stepped up the exploitation of its clean energy resources, hoping to protect the ecology of the plateau while seeking economic growth, said Wang.

It began using solar energy in the 1980s.

Tibet's regional government estimated that solar power helped save at least 162,800 tons of coal equivalent in 2010.

(Xinhua News Agency April 16, 2012)

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