World’s First Molten Salt Fresnel CSP Plant Starts Operation in China

China is considered to be a leader in renewable energy industry, especially photovoltaic energy.  China has started developing solar thermal energy generation and storage with molten salt. The China Lanzhou Dacheng Dunhuang is a 50 MW grid-connected molten salt linear Fresnel CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) project which was officially put to construction on June 29, 2018 in Dunhuang CSP Industrial Park, Northwest China.

The CSP plant was successfully connected to the main gird of China at 17:50 p.m. on December 31, 2019, becoming the first demonstration Fresnel concentrating solar power project in China, and the world as well as the largest solar thermal power plant utilizing Fresnel CSP technology. The plant has now officially begun commercial operation on June 19, 2020.

Lanzhou Dacheng 50MW - World's Largest Molten Salt Fresnel CSP Plant in China
Lanzhou Dacheng 50MW – World’s Largest Molten Salt Fresnel CSP Plant in China, Image Courtesy of China Solar Thermal Alliance

China’s Lanzhou Dacheng Dunhuang CSP project is the first of its kind to use molten salt as the fluid for heat transfer and as a medium for thermal energy storage. According to China Solar Thermal Alliance, under various DNI (Direct Normal Irradiance or Beam Raditation) conditions at the site, the solar collector field reaches an output temperature above 535℃ (995°F) and the temperature difference deviation of the molten salt of each solar collector loop can be controlled to within 5%.

The solar thermal energy storage of the CSP plant is designed to be 15 hours. The designed annual power generation capacity is 214 million kWh, and the annual utilization hours are 4283 hours. China have several other small and large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) projects with a total capacity of approx. 400 MW.

Zhongnan Engineering Corporation Limited of PowerChina, as the EPC contractor of the project, under the organization and coordination of the owner, actively worked with the participating contractors, including Lanzhou Dacheng Technology Co., Ltd (Dacheng) and PowerChina Sepco 1 Electric Power Construction Co., Ltd to do the commissioning of the world’s first CSP project.

Aimal Khan is the founder & CEO of Engineering Passion. He is an engineer and has obtained his bachelor's degree in energy engineering from Kandahar University.