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Friday, December 25, 2009

China goes solar with big building

The City of Dezhou in China has successfully bid to host the 4th of a biannual series of world solar conferences, and will do so in the largest building ever to be almost entirely powered by solar in the world. It has over 800,000 square feet of space inside.

Nearly all of the energy use inside the giant building is solar powered. Green building techniques such as advanced roof and wall insulation reduced the energy requirements of the building by 30% (below comparable buildings) and the solar arrays on the roof provide 82% of the remaining energy.

The 800,000 square foot building contains 75,000 exhibition centers, scientific research facilities, meeting and training facilities, and even the hotel that international trade show attendees can stay in, right in the same building, to further reduce their carbon footprint.

The intention of the conference center is not just to provide a venue for solar trade shows, but to provide a forum for international ideas exchange on solar energy scientific research and technology development, and sustainable urban development using solar.

Solar development will play an increasing part in China’s development. With even major Chinese cities like Shanghai suffering energy shortages in recent years, the urgent need to save electricity is apparent. For China one solar solution to that is the use of solar to heat water, probably the cheapest solar application.

China now leads the world in residential rooftop solar thermal hot water development, reducing its electricity needs. Three out of every four solar thermal collectors worldwide are now both made and installed in China. That market has grown a steady 28% a year in recent years.