Planned solar projects in the U.S. seemed to be one-upping each other throughout 2008, ending with the enormous planned 500 MW facility in San Luis Obispo CA. But now the Chinese are in on the game and, surprise, they're even bigger...planning a solar project twice as large as any currently planned, with a capacity of a full gigawatt.
The project is planned for the Qaidam Basin, a large, sunny desert and The China Technology Development Corporation just signed a deal with local officials to start working on the project.
The project will use only photovoltaic cells (no solar thermal) though it looks like some of the solar cells will be silicon, and others will be thin film. Unfortunately, there's no word on who'll be supplying the panels, but we assume it will be one of the several Chinese companies currently producing solar panels. We also assume that they're using both thin-film and crystalline cells because there would be no other way to get that many solar panels together.
The first phase of the project will bring 30 megawatts of solar power to China, costing roughly $150M and beginning construction in 2009. Whether or not the next phases will be completed, we imagine, depend on the success of this first installation.
This is, of course, fantastic news. Compared to the scale of other solar projects, this is truly massive. Unfortunately, compared to the scale of fossil fuel projects in China, it's minuscule. China reportedly added around 90 gigawatts of coal-fired power in 2006 alone.
This, my friends....is a small step on a very long road.Original here