‘Solar Valley’ – China’s Solar Powered City
In DeZhou, China, nestles a city which runs almost entirely from solar panels funded by one man – Huang Ming. Having been dubbed the ‘sun king’ and the ‘solar energy mad man’, no one can deny that what he’s achieved is a huge feat, and paves the way to further green energy possibilities.
Ming first had the idea when he moved to DeZhou in 1987, after encountering the side effects of pollution at a lake where he grew up. Intent on providing a greener future for his recently born daughter, he quit his job in the oil industry and pledged to make it possible for the city to run on harvested energy from solar panels.
‘Solar Valley’ is home to 552,000 residents and has 98% of its energy provided by strategically placed solar panel arrays. These can be found on roofs, car ports and various ornamental and decorative statues in public areas and have been funded through Ming’s life savings – 2 million yuan (£233,000) – and his company, Himin Solar Energy Group.
Himin Solar’s HQ building is situated within the city, and has been designed specifically to resemble the Chinese characters representing the sun and the moon. The Sun and Moon Micro-Emissions Mansion is lit up by photovoltaic powered LEDs at night, while the sun also provides energy for the hot water, heating and refrigeration. Due to this reliance on harvested solar energy, it only uses 10% of the energy typically consumed by conventional buildings.
Not just content with creating an environmentally friendly city, Ming’s company is also researching into how to incorporate solar technology into everyday items and are currently the world’s biggest producer of solar heaters.
In 2016, half of China’s population were using solar technology which accounted for 76% of world totals – but still, only 1% of the world’s consumption needs were met.
Perhaps it’s time to start looking at ways to create solar communities, and combat energy concerns together.