Chinese province runs on entirely renewable power for a week

Posted on 29 Jun 2017 by Michael Cruickshank

A Chinese province ran the entirety of last week on 100% renewable power, demonstrating the country's commitment to green energy.

Qinghai Province, located in the central western portion of China, ran from the June 17 to midnight of June 23 on energy produced exclusively by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources.

This feat was accomplished by the Qinghai Electric Power Corporation, a subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China, the largest utility company on Earth, and the second largest company by revenue on the planet.

The test itself stands as a demonstration of the ability for renewables to provide a consistent supply of base-load power for a large number of people over a wide area.

“Being the first trial of this kind in the country and a major step in the transformation of energy supply, it will be of great importance in promoting the use of clean energy in China in a sustainable and effective way,” said Qinghai Electric Power Corporation general manager Quan Shenming in a statement.

Reportedly during the week that only renewables were used, 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours of power were generated, equivalent to 535,000 tons of coal.

The majority of this power (72.3%) came from hydroelectric generation plants, while the remainder was supplied by wind and solar.

A publicity stunt?

While this is certainly an impressive technical achievement by China, it also is a rather obvious publicity stunt.

Qinghai is China’s second smallest province by population and contains several large hydroelectric facilities. As well the province does not boast a large amount of heavy industry when compared to other regions of the country.

This made powering the province with green energy a significantly easier task than it would have been if attempted elsewhere.

China is currently the world’s largest generator of renewable energy, but yet still it only makes up around 20% of the country’s total generation capacity.

Nonetheless, the country is indeed on the right track, with huge investments – in the hundreds of billions of US dollars – being made into green energy.