Future of Qinghai: Shades of green

XINING-Northwest China's Qinghai province could become the first region in China to run entirely on clean energy, according to experts.

By 2050, the installed capacity of green energy in Qinghai could reach 400 million kilowatts, and its annual electricity generation could surpass 800 billion kilowatt-hours, said Lu Qiang, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, at a high-profile green energy forum in Qinghai.

"By then, the province could completely eliminate reliance on fossil energy and run solely on stable, safe and sustainable green energy sources," Lu said.

From June 17 to midnight June 23, Qinghai ran entirely on renewable energy, using wind, solar and hydropower.

During the period, hydropower plants supplied 72.3 percent of the electricity, with new energy such as wind and solar supplying the remainder.

Home to the source of China's major rivers, including the Yellow, Yangtze and Lancang, Qinghai has strong hydropower and solar supplies and is home to 5.8 million people.

By May, the Qinghai power grid had an installed capacity of 23.4 million kilowatts, about 82.8 percent coming from hydro, solar and wind sources.

"Qinghai has an organic industry chain of power generation. It also has diverse transmission paths to send power to other regions. Qinghai is more competitive than other regions in the development of green energy," said Jin Yong, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), China's energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped by 18.2 percent, said Ren Shuben, head of environment resources at the National Development and Reform Commission.

"Now is a good time to give a strong push to green energy and the recycling economy to change energy consumption and achieve high-efficiency energy use," he said.

Lu said Qinghai needs to tackle problems of instability in green energy and develop a smart grid where hydropower, solar, wind and power-storage facilities can function together organically.

According to the provincial 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), Qinghai will expand its solar and wind capacity to 35 million kilowatts by 2020 and supply 110 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity every year annually to central and eastern parts of China, without burning 50 million metric tons of coal.