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Suzhou Village Lit by Sunshine
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Shushan Village in the Suzhou Hi-tech Park in east China's Jiangsu Province is doing its bit for energy conservation by installing solar-powered street lamps.


About 50 of the strange-looking lights, which feature an upward facing "wing" that captures sunlight and turns it into energy, appeared on the village's roads recently. They each use a 65-watt energy-saving tube.


Cui Rongqiang, a solar energy expert from Shanghai Jiaotong University, told China Daily: "There are two main reasons for using the solar lamps: One is that solar energy is clean; the other is that in the long run, solar lamps cost less and save more energy than ordinary lamps."


Solar-powered traffic lights in Suzhou


The solar panels collect sunlight and turn it into electricity, which is then stored in cells for later use. No additional power source is required.


Although the new solar lamps cost about 40-50 percent more than ordinary lamps, they are cost-effective in the long run, as they need little maintenance, require no cabling and have a longer life.


Statistics from the photovoltaic engineering research centre under the Ministry of Education show that 50 million new outdoor lamps are installed each year. If just 50,000 (or one one-thousandth) of them were the solar type, China would save 700 million kilowatt-hours of electricity every year equivalent to the annual output of a 100-megawatt power plant.


As well as Suzhou, the energy-saving lighting has been introduced in Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan in Shandong Province, Taiyuan in Shanxi Province, and several other cities.


In February, 98 high-power solar lamps were installed along Cangfeng Road in Shanghai's suburban Songjiang District.


As the energy-saving lamps become more popular, however, more attention must be paid to their design and quality, Cui said.


He said that in some places, the lamps had stopped working after just one year.


"There is still a long way to go before solar lamps are widely applied in China and fulfill their energy-saving potential," Cui said.


(China Daily April 19, 2007)

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