Changyi's change a microcosm of green energy transition

Offshore hybrid wind and solar farm powers Shandong county's manufacturing industrial base

By Li Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-13 09:31
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Editor's note: As protection of the planet's flora, fauna and resources becomes increasingly important, China Daily is publishing a series of stories to illustrate the country's commitment to safeguarding the natural world.

Seabirds fly near wind turbines off the coast of Changyi, Shandong province. CHINA DAILY

Peering out toward the horizon across the Yellow Sea from the small coastal county of Changyi in East China's Shandong province, you'd be forgiven for thinking everything is business as usual — as fishing vessels and container ships carry out their daily business.

But 18 kilometers from the shore, a collection of 50 gargantuan wind turbines whirs into action, feeding the county's thirsty manufacturing industrial base with clean energy.

Changyi is a microcosm of how China is leading the global transition to renewable energy.

It took less than a year for the wind farm to come online after its construction commenced in early 2022. The farm now supplies electricity to foundries, textile factories and other industrial facilities along the shore.

This rapid development speed is typical for how fast renewable energy is coming along nationwide, one local official said.

The wind farms are part of a larger $496 million hybrid wind and solar project still under construction by China Three Gorges Renewables Group.

"We're going full steam ahead with setting up solar panels out at sea," said Cao Jinchao, a manager at the group's Changyi branch, referring to a solar plant being built in the same area.

It features both floating and fixed solar panels and will be operational by the end of this year, he said. Building such projects is challenging due to engineering complexities and severe weather conditions encountered further from the shore.

Panels are being installed to assess the endurance, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of two distinct forms of marine-based solar installations, with the aim of gathering essential data for the expansion of solar projects on the high seas.

Cao said that the hybrid farm, boasting an installed capacity of 300 megawatts, has an extra feature — artificial reefs have been placed in the vicinity to serve as habitats and breeding grounds for marine species.

Monitoring systems are being used to oversee the well-being of the fish and to assess the environmental impact of the renewable power plant. "This hybrid project is shaping up to be a real game changer, combining offshore wind power, a fish hangout and solar power all in one package," he said.

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