China's NEA to back 1.3GW of solar thermal pilot projects by 2018

The Chinese government has revealed plans to support the construction of 1.35GW of solar thermal capacity within the next two years.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) will back the development of 20 solar thermal demonstration projects in Qinghai, Gansu and Hebei provinces, as well as in the remote Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang regions, according to an online statement.

Participating companies — including state-run power groups such as China Three Gorges, Guodian, China General Nuclear Power and Huaneng — will be required to strictly follow a number of key technical guidelines, with all projects expected to be operational by the end of 2018.

Given that curtailment of solar PV and wind capacity is already a severe problem in Gansu province and the Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang regions, developers will also be expected to work closely with State Grid to ensure that their projects are connected to the grid in a timely manner, with all generated power to be consumed.

The projects, which will each range from 50MW to 100MW in size, will include molten salt storage technologies.

Projected conversion efficiency rates will vary from project to project, within a range of 10.5% to 26.76%.

The NEA aims to support similar projects in the future, beyond the initial 1.349GW plan.