FOCUS BIG MARKETS: CHINA & POLAND
15,000 m3 pit thermal energy storage
By Thomas Karst, CEO, Arcon-Sunmark
Supplying remote communities with a long-term and affordable heating solution, which, as an additional benefit is CO2-free, at the same time, is possible. In the Tibetan towns of Langkazi and Zhongba, the solution has been to invest in a large-scale solar district heating system that will supply the towns with heating year-round for a guaranteed minimum of 25 years. Solar heat technology is one of the most efficient of all the renewable energies. Renewable energy (RE) will, in the future, play an important part in supplying heat for district heating (DH) and for industrial purposes. RE technologies are already part of the energy mix in many towns, and in some instances RE delivers heat as a stand- alone solution. Large-scale solar thermal energy has proven its worth in reliability, longevity, versatility and cost-effectiveness. Langkazi and Zhongba in Tibet, China, are great examples of what solar heat can accomplish. The system in Langkazi was completed in late 2018, and construction in Zhongba has begun in the summer of 2019. The two communities are investing in full-scale DH systems based on solar heating, where the energy from the sun rays are absorbed by hundreds of square meters of flat panel collectors that transform the energy from the sun directly into heat. The Zhongba collector field is 34,650 m2 yielding 21,000 MWh, and Langkazi is 22,000 m2
yielding 16,800 MWh. The two communities now have solar heat covering more than 90 % of the annual demand. Storage facilities of 15,000 m3 enable storage of heat produced during the summer months, so that it can be used during the winter where production is low, but demand is high. FROM ZERO TO SELF-SUFFICIENT Langkazi and Zhongba are situated at an altitude of 4,600 and 4,700 meters respectively, where radiation from the sun is in abundance because of the high altitude and many hours of sunshine throughout the year. In effect, this makes the region perfect for large-scale solar heating systems. The natural energy sources at this height are very limited, and the majority of the energy needed had formerly to be imported in the form of combustible fuels, e.g. coal, oil, gas and wood, to the remote communities, and at a challenging extra cost due to transport in the limited infrastructure across Tibet. Consequently, energy is a scarce and costly resource to come by, and the Chinese authorities have identified solar heat as a favorable way of securing a stable energy supply, increasing the general standard of living and transforming the communities from being reliant on outside conventional energy sources to become self-reliant on a clean renewable energy source – the sun.
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