China Coal Giant Opts for Solar, With More Than a Grain of Salt
Just weeks after the world’s biggest investor-owned coal company declared bankruptcy amid a wave of sector failures, the globe’s biggest coal producer—China’s state-owned Shenhua Group Corporation—has placed a big bet on solar.
China’s government is urgently seeking new energy sources to allow it to phase out coal-fired generation blamed for recurrent urban pollution emergencies. In partnership with U.S.-based SolarReserve, Shenhua said it will get the country one-tenth of the way to its goal of generating 10,000 megawatts of electricity from concentrated solar power when it completes its plan for 1,000 MW of production from facilities in northern and western China.
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SolarReserve deploys liquid salt heat storage technology that will allow the plants to generate grid-scale power 24 hours a day, the companies said. Energy will be delivered to cities in eastern China by dedicated high-voltage transmission ties.
U.S.-headquartered Peabody Energy became the biggest corporate failure so far in the coal downturn when it sought bankruptcy protection last month.