Ordos erects 'Solar Great Wall' to combat desertification

Updated: 2024-06-20 (chinadaily.com.cn) Print


A vast array of solar power panels already lines huge tracts of land outside Ordos city. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

In a pioneering effort to tackle desertification and generate masses of electricity for its population and ever-growing industry, the city of Ordos – located in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region – has embarked on a huge new project.

This will see it integrate photovoltaic (PV) or solar power generation with sand control measures in the Kubuqi Desert – China's seventh largest desert – and in the Mu Us Sandy Land.

The initiative is set to create the "Solar Great Wall" – an immense body of solar power panels – stretching across the vast area administered by the city.

The Solar Great Wall extends from Juungar Banner in the east to Hanggin Banner in the west, passing through Dalad Banner.

Spanning about 400 kilometers in length and averaging 5 km in width, the project aims to install a capacity of 100 gigawatts of solar power panels.

It will facilitate the reclamation of 3 million mu (about 200,000 hectares) of sandy land through solar power and an additional 9 million mu through ecological restoration.

Moreover, the giant Solar Great Wall encompasses five major energy bases, with two located in Dalad Banner.

One of these is the Dalad PV Power Generation Leading Base, the largest single-site solar power park – or photovoltaic or PV project – in the country.

Constructed in two phases, this will have a total capacity of 1 GW. When it's fully operational, it will generate some 2 billion kilowatt-hours of green electricity annually.


A massive solar power park covers land outside Ordos city. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

The project is employing the innovative approach of planting crops beneath the solar panels, while generating electricity from above.

Another significant project is the Ordos Central-Northern New Energy Base in the Kubuqi Desert, with the first phase completed and connected to the grid in 2023.

The second phase, with a capacity of 1 GW, is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2024.

To support the construction of the Solar Great Wall, Ordos is accelerating the development of outbound power transmission cables and associated new energy infrastructure, while also enhancing the local power grid.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), the city plans to build five new 500-kilovolt substations and to expand two existing ones, adding a total of 21.6 GW of transformer capacity.

Efforts are also being intensified to synchronize the development and sales of new energy and equipment manufacturing – maximizing the local consumption of new energy projects.

Overall, the solar power equipment manufacturing industry is said to have achieved significant breakthroughs, with high-energy-consuming industries expected to consume over 80 billion kWh of electricity annually by 2025.

Elsewhere, Ordos is accelerating the establishment of innovative platforms for solar power panel-based sand control and the construction of a national sustainable development agenda innovation demonstration zone.

This will aim to create a replicable and scalable desertification control and green development model.

What's more, the city is formulating standards for PV-based sand control construction, technology and ecological investment – establishing an "Ordos experience" model of PV-based sand control.

Additionally, a diversified investment mechanism – involving government, business enterprises and the public – is being promoted to foster the integrated development of new energy + sand control projects and related industries.

By 2030, the project is expected to provide 50,000 stable jobs, increase annual per capita income by over 20,000 yuan ($2,739) and boost the ecological industry's annual output value by 1 billion yuan.