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Clean Energyand Sunshine Plan

2003/10/14

Those who have been to the No. 2 Village of Nag Qu Degyi Township in north Tibet can hardly forget the solar stove and midget wind-driven generator in front of or at the back of each home. Herdsmen use them for lighting, heating water, listening to radio and watching TV.

According to available geological data, Tibet, with coal and oil deposits scarce, lacks conventional energy resources.In woody areas, people fell trees for fuel; in farming and stock-raising areas, crop stalks, turf and dried animal droppings are all used as fuel. However, Tibet has plenty of waterpower, geothermal, solar and wind energy resources. In line with specific local conditions, Tibet focuses on building hydropower stations. At the same time, it takes suitable measures to exploit geothermal, solar and wind energies. These "clean energies" are economical, convenient and ample and because of them, lots of trees and turf are spared, a fact which benefits ecology.

At present, Tibet has about 500 small hydropower stations with a total installed capacity of 150,000 kilowatts. The Yamzhuo Yumco Lake Hydropower Station, which is now under construction on the border of Lhasa, Xigaze and Shannan prefectures, is Tibet's largest project for waterpower exploitation. From the lake, water is diverted through the Kamba La Mountain to the south bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River to generate electricity by means of a sharp drop of more than 840 metres between the lake and the river. In consideration of the special features of the power system of Lhasa area, the station uses the surplus electricity to draw water and store energy when its load is at the lowest and discharges water to generate electricity at the peak load. Thus, the amount of water of the lake will, by and large, not lessen and the water level will not go down so that the ecological equilibrium is maintained. The State invests 600 million yuan in this project, which is scheduled to start operation with an installed capacity of 90,000 kilowatts in 1995.

Tibet's economic development has been plagued by lack of energy. Serious shortage of electricity has hampered the industrial and agricultural development in the area around Lhasa. The Yamzhuo Yumco Lake Hydropower Station will meet the fast- growing need for electricity of the Lhasa area. It will also help form a grid for the Lhasa, Xigaze and Shannan areas to supply electricity for the development of the middle valleys of the above three rivers. By electric pumping, about a million mu of reclaimable land will be turned into fertile cropland and lush pasture free from drought and flood, which will greatly improve the life of the locals. That is why they are eagerly looking forward to the completion of the project.

Tibet is rich in geothermal energey resources; so far more than 600 surface indications have been discovered with an estimated potential of 800,000 kilowatts. The Yangbajain geothermal field, only 90 kilometers away from Lhasa, is one of the largest surface indications in Tibet so far discovered. The Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station, the largest in China, started operation in 1988. Now it annually sends 50 million kwhs of electricity to Lhasa, about 40 per cent of the electricity turned out by the whole Lhasa grid, fully meeting the need of the local people. Exploitation of the geothermal energy resources in Tibet, though at its initial stage, has drawn the attention of world geologists and energy experts. Upon investigation, United Nations and Italian experts hold that the prospect is very promising and they have provided about $9 million as aid for the construction of geothermal fields in Yangbajain Nying Zhong, Naggu and Latoggang. Naggu Power Station has started operation recently, turning out 3,000 kilowatts of electricity to bring light to the locals.

Geothermal experts from Japan, the Unfed States, Italy, Denmark, Iceland, Mexico, Australia and Canada have applied for a share in the exploitation of the Yangbajain geothermal field. The geothermal energy resources, having slumbered underground for thousands of years, will play an important role in the economic development of Tibet.

Tibet successfully carried out the ''sunshine plan'' from 1990 to 1992, taking lead in China in the use of solar energy. Altogether were constructed 40,500 cubic metres of solar energy greenhouse; 30,400 cubic metres of solar room; 3, 300 cubic metres of solar energy water heater. And were installed 16,000 solar energy stoves; 700 wind driven generators. The solar energy used is equivalent to the energy produced by 30,000 tons of coal.

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