Cool conditions make solar power a winner for Tibet

1st August, 2011 by Roger East

The intense sunlight 4,000m above sea level makes for a more reliable source of electricity than hydropower for thousands of Tibetans.

A 10MW solar centre is planned for a village 4,000m above sea level in Tibet’s Sangri County, just north of the Himalayas. It will convert the intense sunlight there into more reliable electricity supplies for thousands of local people.

The plant, funded by Suntech Power Holdings, will be connected to the central Tibet power grid, and generate more than 20,000MWh of electricity a year. It’s some compensation for the growing unreliability of local hydroelectric power, due to changing weather patterns, frequent droughts and reduced river flow.

It’s a climate issue in more ways than one. The cool high-altitude air will improve the efficiency of energy conversion in the PV cells.

This isn’t the highest solar power installation that Chinese giant Suntech Power Holdings has ever tackled. Its ‘outreach’ work with Tibetan villagers has put in a number of school and community systems in the region, and even one for climbers at the Everest base camp. – Roger East

Photo credit: terraxplorer / istock

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