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China's solar-powered highway yields 5M+ kWhs of green electricity



China's solar-powered Tarim Desert Highway, recognized as the longest photovoltaic irrigation and sand control project in China, has generated more than 5 million kilowatt-hours of green electricity as of Monday, according to PetroChina, the country's largest oil and gas producer.

The highway, which traverses the Taklimakan Desert in southwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and stretches for 522 kilometers, is equipped with 86 solar power stations. It is a zero-carbon demonstration project built to replace diesel generators for water pumping and irrigation, providing green electricity for irrigating over 3,100 hectares of ecological protective forests along the road.

The solar stations, with a total installed capacity of 3,540 kilowatts, generate approximately 1.1 million kWh of electricity daily, according to Wen Zhang, deputy general manager of the PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Branch.

"All the 109 water wells along the road utilize clean electricity for water pumping and irrigation," said Wen. "The technical requirement of photovoltaic power generation and seven-hour energy storage can be met."

During the transformation of water well houses along the highway, engineers have designed three types of photovoltaic power generation equipment and adopted photovoltaic energy storage systems to ensure the normal operation of water pumping devices even in the absence of sunlight. 

The project implemented a novel 'sunlight nurturing greenery' approach by integrating photovoltaic power generation along the desert highway, according to Meng Panlei, power engineer of the New Energy Division of the PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Branch. Such initiative features a sustainable development model that encompasses power generation from the solar panels and cultivation beneath them. The strategy also includes desert control, soil amelioration, and the comprehensive management of water resources, all aimed at transforming the ecological environment within the desert's core.

According to the calculations by technical experts, this project is expected to reduce diesel consumption by approximately 1,000 tonnes and decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 3,410 tonnes annually.

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