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China Opens World’s Biggest Solar Plant

China has just connected what it believes to be the world’s biggest solar power plant to the grid in northwestern Xinjiang. The plant covers an area of 200,000 acres and is reported to have an output of 6.09 billion kWh annually.

The new plant is in the deserts near the region’s capital Ürümqi. The site came online this Monday (June 3) and is being run by the Chinese state-owned Power Construction Corporation, according to Reuters.

Xinjiang is sparsely populated and abundant in solar and wind resources. This makes it an ideal site for massive renewable energy bases that transmit most of their power over long distances to China’s densely populated eastern seaboard.

New 5GW solar power plant now online

Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It is located in the northwest of the country, serving as a crossroads between Central Asia and East Asia.

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Xinjiang is the largest province-level division of China by area and the 8th-largest country subdivision in the world. It spans over 620,000 square miles (397 million acres) and has a population of about 25 million inhabitants. It shares its borders with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and India.

With a census population of 4 million in 2020, Ürümqi is the second-largest city in China’s northwestern interior after Xi’an and the largest city in Central Asia in terms of population.

Since the 1990s, Ürümqi has experienced significant economic development and currently functions as a regional transport hub and a cultural, political, and commercial center.

The new power plant is the only latest development in the region. It further cements China’s growing strength in its solar power generation capabilities.

Data released by China’s National Energy Administration last year revealed that the country’s solar electricity generation capacity grew by a staggering 55.2 percent in 2023. The numbers highlight over 216 gigawatts (GW) of solar power that China built during the year.

China’s ambitious goals

According to the Global Energy Monitor’s solar power tracker, the two largest operational solar facilities were previously located in western China. These were Longyuan Power Group’s Ningxia Tenggeli desert solar project and China Lüfa Qinghai New Energy’s Golmud Wutumeiren solar complex, both with a capacity of 3GW.

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Source: IE

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