China's Huge Solar Park: The Basics

Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, 850 MW, China, completed 2015. Also named the Gonghe PV Station, this immense solar power plant was built in two stages.

Stage I involved the installation of photovoltaic panels covering an area of 9 sq km (2,200 acres) on an arid site near the northwest shore of Longyangxia Reservoir. The reservoir was formed by the Longyangxia Dam, built to hold back the mighty Yellow River, in Qinghai Province in northwest China. Stage I has a capacity of 320 MW, and is connected to one of the dam’s turbines by a 330 kV transmission line. This arrangement allows for operators to adjust output between hydropower and photovoltaic power generation, stabilizing the output of power fed to the grid, thereby raising the grid’s efficiency.

Stage I was designed and built by Powerchina, and completed in December, 2013. Stage II saw the installation of 11.2 sq km (2,700 acres) of additional PV panels, generating 530 MW.