Solar Power Goes High Altitude In Tibet

SunTech Power has announced the development of a 10 megawatt solar power plant in Tibet. Located over two miles above sea level in Chek Kang village in the Sangri County of the Shannan Prefecture, the solar system is expected to be completed sometime in the middle of 2011.

The solar power plant is expected to supply thousands of residents in the area with renewable energy, generating 20,000 megawatt hours of power each year. SunTech says Tibet is an idea place to solar technology because of the region’s intense sunlight, but cool temperatures.

image via SunTech Power

Traditionally, Tibet has has relied on hydroelectric resources for their power supply, but as the climate has been changing in recent years, severe droughts have impacted electricity production. The 10 MW solar facility hopes to act as a way to balance peak power strain during those dry seasons, and serve as complementary service alongside the existing hydroelectric systems.SunTech is no stranger to high-altitude solar facilities, as the company installed one at the base of Mount Everest in 2008 so that climbers could have access to renewable energy before hiking up the mountain.

While the new solar plant in Chek Kang is certainly one of the highest facilities on the planet, it doesn’t take the top spot. As we reported earlier this year, OSolar has established a grid-connected system in Lhasa, Tibet, which is technically at a higher elevation.

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Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.