China's Clean, Green Energy Efforts

From solar homes to fuel cell vehicles, China is making clean energy sources are one of the nation's top research and development priorities.

Published: 22-Mar-2005

Some of the world’s most polluted cities are in China, so it’s no surprise that clean energy sources are one of the country’s ­research-and-development priorities.

The Solar Energy Institute at Shanghai Jiaotong University, for instance, has built a one-story, 245-square-meter prototype house that relies on multiple forms of ­renewable energy, supplemented with ­energy from conventional sources. The house’s power system includes an array of photovoltaic cells that generates 1,700 watts of electricity under peak sunlight conditions, and three sets of 300-watt wind turbines. The system can generate about 3,000 kilowatt-hours of electrical power each year, mainly for lighting, household electrical appliances, and water pumps.

Outside the house stands a street lamp with its own independent solar-power system. Twenty square meters of solar-energy panels and 2,000-watt terrestrial heat pumps provide heat for both the rooms of the house and the water supply. Twenty people a day can bathe in summer, or 10 in winter, and still leave enough hot water for routine use. The same heat pumps work in reverse during the summer to cool about one-quarter of the house, an area of 60 square meters. Based on the average amount of annual sunlight in Shanghai, the system could provide 10,700 kilowatt-hours of heat per year. The goal is for the house to draw 70 percent of its needed energy from the sun.

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