Business / Industries

Coal hub seeks its place under the sun

By Lyu Chang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-26 07:25

Shanxi province, China's coal hub in the north, has charted a plan to replace "dirty" coal with cleaner energy sources like solar power due to the steep fall in commodity prices and the government's determination to reduce carbon emissions.

In June, Datong, a major coalfield in the province, got approval under the National Energy Administration's "Top Runner" program to pilot photovoltaic technology research and development.

Wang Mingsheng, deputy head of Datong's Development and Reform Commission, said the city can no longer rely on the past growth model of coal production, as demand has fallen sharply due to slower economic growth and the government's clean energy initiatives.

"Though known as the city of coal, Datong also has abundant sunshine and land to house solar power plants," he said. "We are expecting to connect more solar power projects to the grid by the end of this year."

The solar program, which allowed a total solar capacity of about 1,000 megawatts in Datong, includes seven solar power plant projects with an installed capacity of 100 mW for each project and five solar power plants with 50 mW for each project.

Companies such as China Huadian Corp, Huaneng Renewables Corp Ltd, China Three Gorges New Energy Corp and United Photovoltaics Group, whose largest shareholder is China Merchants New Energy Group, have acquired the development rights to 100 mW solar projects earlier this month.

"We have been strictly assessed by the local government and by experts in terms of investment ability, technical capacity and performance level, and the region is likely to become a national hub for PV technology research and development," said a statement from United Photovoltaics Group.

Official data show that Shanxi province produces about 14 billion metric tons of coal, accounting for one-fourth of the country's total supply.

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