Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

The largest solar power plant in the world was put into operation

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jun8,2024

The largest solar power plant in the world was launched

The world's largest solar power plant is operational, Chinese media reports. The facility, which covers 13,333 hectares (32,947 acres) in the desert of northwestern Xinjiang and is capable of providing enough energy for a small country, was connected to the grid on Monday.

Located in the desert region of Urumqi, the capital of China's notoriously restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the 3.5-gigawatt power plant will generate about 6.09 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. This is enough to single-handedly supply electricity to a country like Cameroon or Laos, or to meet the entire electricity demand of Vermont or Alaska.

The installation comes amid a surge in renewable energy investment in a country that the International Energy Agency agency (MEA) recently described as “extraordinary”.

“In 2023, China put into operation as many solar photovoltaic installations as the whole world in 2022”, – the agency noted in its report “Renewable energy sources 2023” back in January.

This is good news for those who don't want to live in an unlivable world after the climate apocalypse: China is also currently the largest emitter of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industry. This is largely due to its huge population – on a per capita basis, the US has a worse impact on the environment – but it's still enough to outpace the rest of the developed world combined.

Recently, however, there have been signs that China's carbon dioxide emissions may have peaked. Emissions fell for the first time in 14 months, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief published in March, The Economist reports, and the same is likely to happen in April. Although it is still too early to say for sure, experts have long been convinced that the country will at least achieve the stated goal – peak emissions no later than 2030.

“By 2030 […] almost half of China's electricity production will come from renewable energy sources”, – predicted in the IEA. This is largely due to the accelerated development of wind and solar power plants in the country: after all, even before the deployment of this new solar mega-power plant, the two largest operating facilities were already located in the west of China.

This is a popular base for such projects. Sparsely populated, with plenty of sun and wind, the Xinjiang region has become a kind of renewable energy production center in the country – though it certainly hasn't lost its reputation for the rich oil and mineral resources it's also located on.

However, it may be renewables that will ultimately win out. After all, China has repeatedly stated its intention to achieve zero emissions by 2060 – a goal that is impossible without significant investment in renewable energy. If the latest news and figures are to be believed, the country can achieve this goal.

“This important strategic decision [to achieve zero emissions] is based on our sense of responsibility to build a community with a shared future for humanity”, – said Chairman Xi back in 2021 while attending a climate summit hosted by the US. “And on our own need to ensure sustainable development”.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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