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Clean power to the people as solar plant starts generating
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The solar power generation plant on Shanghai's Chongming Island has started testing online, according to city officials.


"It is only a technological try rather than a profit-making power plant," Shanghai Electric Power spokesman Wang Changxing said yesterday.


The installed capacity of the plant - the biggest of its kind in China - is just 1,000 kilowatts, accounting for about 1/13,000 of the city's overall power generation.


However, this solar plant, compared with one powered by coal-burning, can reduce consumption by 337 tons of coal and cut the emission of about 10 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide every year.


Both dioxides are toxic substances, dangerous to people's health, and are recognized as potential causes for acid rain.


The project started in January under investment by several government-based companies and the Chongming County.


The cost of the plant is not known. Wang said most of its key equipment, such as solar power collection panels and photovoltaic batteries, was imported from Western countries.


According to experts' estimate, in China, generation of every one kilowatt of solar power costs about 50,000 yuan (US$6,657) - some 10 times more than coal-based power generation.


Due to the high cost, the promotion of "green power" will be very difficult in the city and country, officials said.


Wang said the city government was considering subsidizing the generation of green power but, for some time, solar power generation will remain an unprofitable industry.


He said the major purpose of the project was to test the technology of solar power generation, setting an example for the future.


In many Western countries, particularly in northern European countries, generation of green power received generous government funding.


The city government has planned to reduce its industrial emission by 27 percent from 2006 to 2010. This year's reduction target is two percent, twice as much as last year.


To meet the target, it has also raised the importance of developing clean energies - such as wind and solar power.


The city's overall generation of clean energy only accounts for a bit over 1/1,000 of the total power.


(Shanghai Daily October 23, 2007)

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