China's largest offshore solar farm starts construction in Jiangsu Province

2024-05-20 08:56:06Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
The concept photo for China's largest offshore solar farm in Lianyungang city, East China's Jiangsu Province (Photo/Courtesy of China National Nuclear Corporation)

The concept photo for China's largest offshore solar farm in Lianyungang city, East China's Jiangsu Province (Photo/Courtesy of China National Nuclear Corporation)

Construction of China's largest offshore solar farm officially commenced at Haibin harbor in Lianyungang city, East China's Jiangsu Province on Sunday, China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) said, another milestone in the country's intensifying green transformation in aligning with its carbon neutrality goals before 2060.

With a total investment of 9.88 billion yuan ($1.39 billion), the 2 million kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) demonstration farm is expected to save around 680,000 tons of standard coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.77 million tons annually, according to the CNNC.

Experts said that more offshore solar farms will be launched to bolster clean and renewable energy generation, to serve fast regional economic development in the country's coastal provinces.

The project built by CNNC, one of the country's largest nuclear power operators, is currently the largest three-dimensional layered sea-based solar farm in China, with an approved sea area of about 28,000 mu (1,868 hectares). 

The project is located in the warm sea water area earmarked for the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in Lianyungang. While an area of the water is utilized for the nuclear power plant's warm water discharge, the neighboring area is designated for offshore PV construction. This design represents a cohesive and integrated use of marine resources.

The 2-million kilowatt tidal flat PV project is divided into two parts -- offshore and onshore. The offshore section comprises solar power generation, with the generated electricity transmitted to the onshore step-up substation via an overhead corridor bridge and integrated into the state grid after voltage adjustment. 

The onshore energy storage project is in its final construction phase and is expected to be completed and operational by the end of June.

The project will be connected to the state grid in September 2024, with full capacity expected to be connected in 2025, according to the CNNC.

Over its 25-year operating period, it is projected to generate an annual average of 2.234 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, meeting the annual production and life needs of 230,000 people.

The project serves as an important demonstration for offshore solar power generation, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The project's key advantage lies in its proximity to the market where electricity demand is significant, Lin said.

"Given that the southeastern coastal areas are among China's fastest-developing regions with high electricity demand, the potential for offshore solar farms remains substantial," Lin noted.

China has a high demand for solar power, but the persistent reliance on coal is primarily due to the insufficient contribution of new-energy sources, including solar, the expert said, noting that solar and wind power combined now account for 15 percent of the entire power generation structure.

In 2023, China's newly installed PV capacity reached 216.88 gigawatts, a year-on-year increase of 148.1 percent, according to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, indicating further growth in demand for clean and renewable energies. 

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