Energy Initiative Blogs

Gobi Desert Introduces Solar Panels

by Ayesha Riaz | Aug 17, 2015

Large expanses of land do not often remain empty for long. Possible reasons why development does not occur in certain regions is usually due to 1) being protected under an environmental law or 2) not being economically feasible towards rehabilitation efforts. However, countries are challenging this idea and proposing developments in areas where projects are not usually considered: Deserts and Oceans. Being two very different ecosystems with very specific climate conditions, the type of projects (speaking in terms of renewable energy generation) must reflect the conditions.

Currently, China is constructing its first large-scale solar plant….in the Gobi Desert. Located in the overlapping region of Northern China and Southern Mongolia, specifically outside the city of Dunhuang, the Gansu Province, NASA images showed images gathered from the EO-1 satellite of photovoltaic panels rapidly increasing within the past several years. The area in question recieves approximately 3,250 hours of sunlight per year, and 3,500 square kilometers are available for further construction. Clearly, space and light are not limiting factors, however spring dust storms and lack of water in the area (to keep panels clean) may be an issue.


Although construction began in 2009, steady and reliable progress has been made so far.  According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), China increased solar capacity by 37% for a total of 28.1 gigawatts. Within the first quarter of 2015, they’ve added 5 gigawatts more solar capacity. Although this is clearly not enough to halt global warming as a whole, the progress is very significant for a country who is investing so much into renewables.


Additional Material

China is building its first large-scale solar plant in the Gobi Desert

NASA Photos Show China’s Plan to Meet New UN Climate Pledge

Images of Dunhuang region