BEIJING, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- China will start construction as early as next month on an experimental solar thermal plant capable of powering at least 30,000 homes, officials say.
China Daily reported Thursday that Asia's first 1.5-megawatt solar thermal power station will be built in a Beijing suburb at a cost of $14.7 million and start operating next year.
Wang Zhifeng -- who is heading up the project and is the solar thermal power laboratory director for the Chinese Academy of Sciences -- said the plant would be designed and operated by 10 Chinese institutions and companies, including the academy, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Huadian Corp. and Himin Solar Group.
Wang projects the plant -- which will cover 32 acres and include 100 curved mirrors that track the sun and redirect the rays to a receiver atop a 328-foot tower -- will generate up to 2.7 million kwh of electricity per year, equivalent to eliminating 2,300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants.
The receiver's concentrated solar thermal power will generate steam that will power a turbine used for electricity generation.
Solar thermal power plants are typically much larger than plants made of photovoltaic solar panels that use sunlight to produce electricity.