China Tries a New Tack to Go Solar

Though China is becoming a leader in renewable energy, its future solar power efforts may see some obstacles in the future. A look at what lies ahead for China’s renewable energy sector, from Keith Bradsher of the New York Times:

As it moves rapidly to become the world’s leader in nuclear power, wind energy and photovoltaic solar panels, China is taking tentative steps to master another alternative energy industry: using mirrors to capture sunlight, produce steam and generate electricity.

So-called concentrating solar power uses hundreds of thousands of mirrors to turn water into steam. The steam turns a conventional turbine similar to those in coal-fired power plants. The technology, which is potentially cheaper than most types of renewable power, has captivated many engineers and financiers in the last two years, with an abrupt surge in new patents and plans for large power operations in Europe and the United States.

This year may be China’s turn. China is starting to build its own concentrating solar power plants, a technology more associated with California deserts than China’s countryside. And Chinese manufacturers are starting to think about exports, part of China’s effort to become the world’s main provider of alternative energy power equipment.

Yet concentrating solar power still faces formidable obstacles here, including government officials who are skeptical that the technology will be useful on a large scale in China.

January 8, 2010 8:59 PM
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Categories: Environment, Sci-Tech