China Three Gorges (CTG) has started work on an 80bn yuan ($11.6bn) desert energy mega-project that is claimed to be the largest of its type to feature renewables underway globally.

CTG in the final days of 2022 announced start of construction at the first pilot project of the Kubuqi Base Project in Inner Mongolia, which will feature wind, solar and energy storage at epic scales to help China meet its vast renewables ambitions.

The project will ultimately include 8GW of solar capacity and 4GW of turbines, along with some 4GW of coal capacity, according to local media.

“The Kubuqi Base project is the world's largest wind [and] photovoltaic base project developed and constructed in… desert areas,” CTG said in a statement, adding that it aims to build “the Three Gorges on the Great Wall”, in an apparent reference to the iconic hydropower project from which the company takes its name.

Kubuqi Base joins a number of desert renewable mega-projects planned globally, some with even higher capacity ambitions and many linked to planned production of green hydrogen.

The first project underway is a 1GW PV project with “corresponding” energy storage, said CTG which gave no schedule for the development as senior company and regional officials turned out for the groundbreaking.

CTG separately said it enters 2023 with 27 new projects underway with a total of 19.6GW of clean energy capacity.

China plans to roughly double its already world-leading renewable energy base to include 1,200GW of wind and solar capacity by 2030.