China mulls world's largest solar plant

Updated: 2006-11-21 20:51

BEIJING - China, seeking to ease its dependence on coal to fuel its booming economy, said on Tuesday it will build the world's largest solar power station in the poor but sunny northwestern province of Gansu.

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The 100 megawatt (mw) project would cost approximately 6.03 billion yuan ($766 million) and construction would take five years, Xinhua news agency said.

China's economy is racing along at more than 10 percent a year and miners are struggling to meet booming demand for coal, which fuels about 70 percent of the nation's energy consumption.

China has also stepped up investment in energy projects abroad and nuclear power, keen to cut down on pollution which hit the maximum "hazardous" level in the capital on Tuesday.

Planners chose the "oasis town" of Dunhuang for the solar plant.

"Covering a total area of 31,200 square metres, Dunhuang boasts 3,362 hours of sunshine every year and is hailed as a prime area for solar energy development, with its easy access to electricity transmission and communications," Xinhua said.

Xinhua claimed the world's current largest solar power station was a 5mw project in Leipzig, Germany, with 33,500 solar panels.

But a solar plant in Arnstein near Wuerzburg in southern Germany has a 12mw capacity, according to its operator S.A.G. Solarstrom.

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