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Massive Solar Power Plant Going Up in China

China, which is on track to build the equivalent of one new 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant every 10 days for the next 10 years, is also committed to boosting the amount of emission-free energy it produces.

By 2030, the government announced this week, it wants to reduce fossil-fuel energy by 20 percent.

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To that end, the country is already constructing its largest solar power plant to date — a 10-square-mile facility in the Gobi desert that’s expected to have a capacity of 200 megawatts, reports via National Geographic. Two hundred megawatts is enough to supply electricity to one million households.

Named Delingha, the concentrating solar thermal project — similar to Ivanpah in California’s Mojave Desert — will sprawl across 6,300 acres of vacant land in the Qinghai province once completed.

The satellite images above, courtesy of NASA, show just how much progress has been made. On the left, the new power plant is just beginning to creep over the desert on October 15, 2012. On the right, the surface area covered has tripled by May 22, 2015.

Six fields of mirrors will direct sunlight to a tall tower, each of which will generate about 135 megawatts of electricity when fully operational. Overall, the plant will reduce carbon emissions by 20 millions tons over its lifetime.

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“China’s carbon dioxide emission will peak by around 2030 and China will work hard to achieve the target at an even earlier date,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said after meeting French President Francois Hollande in Paris to agree upon a U.N. climate deal.

Delingha is set to go online in 2017 with other solar power plants in China following. Since Chinese solar panel manufacturers are the main source of the technology in the world, we can only hope that their direct involvement in this technology will improve solar panel efficiency over time. And reduce fossil-fuel emissions, to boot.

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