Photovoltaic power stations become important source of income for impoverished regions in China

Photovoltaic panels set up in a village in Shiyan, central China's Hubei Province. Picture: Yang Xianyou/People's Daily Online

Photovoltaic panels set up in a village in Shiyan, central China's Hubei Province. Picture: Yang Xianyou/People's Daily Online

Published Apr 26, 2021


Large numbers of energy projects have been built across China to give a leg up to the country's poverty alleviation efforts, and remarkable progress has been made.

Photovoltaic (PV) power stations are now an important source of income for many impoverished regions in China. At present, China's poverty alleviation PV power stations add up to 26.36 GW, benefiting nearly 60,000 poor villages and 4.15 million impoverished households. They generate revenue of around 18 billion yuan ($2.79 billion) each year. Village-level PV stations can help each village increase annual income by 200,000 yuan.

"Poverty alleviation PV stations are like a bankbook that gets me bonus each year," said Liu Haipeng from Yaoqu village, Jixian County, central China's Shanxi province, who was once trapped in poverty due to paralysis. It were the PV stations that improved his financial situation.

"Now I work at the photovoltaic park in Talatan. I can earn over 30,000 yuan each year, including the bonus," Ma Shengjian, villager from Gonghe County, Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of northwest China's Qinghai province told the People's Daily.

Apart from PV stations, China is also making efforts to build other types of energy projects to help develop economy in poor areas and create jobs for local residents.

The country has invested over 2.7 trillion yuan in large energy projects in impoverished areas since 2012. A total of 336.2 billion yuan was invested in power transmission lines in impoverished areas of western China, which led to direct economic gains of more than 860 billion yuan. Besides, a batch of large hydropower stations, modern coal mines and clean and efficient coal mines were built in impoverished areas, creating more than 100,000 jobs.

Employees of a branch of the State Grid Corporation of China in Bohu County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region overhaul a rural power transmission line in the county. Picture: Chue Horot /People's Daily Online

During the past five years, China steadfastly upgraded rural power grid in counties that are key targets in the state poverty alleviation development program, contiguous impoverished areas with serious difficulties and former revolutionary base areas, so as to better help these regions improve their independent development capability.

The efforts paid to supply three-phase electricity in rural areas are a guarantee to develop modern agriculture. "Irrigation is easier and cheaper nowadays," said Li Qingrui, a villager from Shangguantun village, Gao Tang County, east China's Shandong Province. The man now waters his crops with motor-pumped wells, the cost of which is less than 5 yuan per mu (667 square meters), while it took at least 25 yuan in the past to irrigate his farmland with the water pumped by a diesel engine.

According to an official from the National Energy Administration, a total of 150 million mu of farmland is now facilitated with motor-pumped wells connected to the power grid, which helps farmers cut irrigation cost by 10 billion yuan each year.

The solid power supply also offers stable support for industries targeting at poverty alleviation. Last December, the Ngari prefecture-central Tibet power interconnection project officially started operation, supplying stable electricity to regions along its route.

"Our machines can finally play a big role," said Kelsang Nyima, general manager of an agricultural development firm in Rutog, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Due to insufficient voltage, the devices were always in off mode in the past, so the firm was able to only produce rough wool fabrics manually, which were sold at only 7 yuan per kilogram. Now with the machines, the firm can make wool comforters, and every piece is sold at 900 yuan. Besides, the company also built a processing plant for roasted barley flour and Tibetan incense. "The average annual income of our workers has reached 40,000 yuan," Kelsang Nyima said.

From 2018 to 2020, the construction of power grid has drove the establishment of 25,000 processing plants of agricultural products in“three regions and three prefectures” which refers to Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces, as well as Hetian, Aksu, Kashi, Kizilsu Kyrgyz in the south of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefectur in Yunnan and Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu. The income of featured husbandry and tourism in these regions also increased by 2.7 billion yuan.

Last year, the power consumed by processing plants in rural areas of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture went up by 26.57 percent, and urban enterprises there also consumed 11.27 percent more of electricity from a year ago. Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan saw a year-on-year growth of 17.73 percent in its tourism industry's power consumption.

* This article was published in partnership with People’s Daily Online SA.

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