Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2016, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (2): 130-136.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2016.02.008

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Ecological Functions of PV Power Plants in the Desert and Gobi

CHANG Zhaofeng, LIU Shizeng, ZHU Shujuan, HAN Fugui, ZHONG Shennian, DUAN Xiaofeng   

  1. Gansu Desert Control Research Institute, Lanzhou 730070, China
  • Received:2015-09-01 Revised:2015-12-28 Online:2016-04-12 Published:2016-04-12
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    This work was supported by the Pre-phase Project of the State 973 Program (2014CB460611) and National Natural Science Fund Project; (41261102)


Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is an emerging energy industry that is developing rapidly. A number of PV power plants have been established in the desert and Gobi areas in northwest China in recent years. Is there any ecological significance to the establishment of PV power plants? If yes, what is it? This paper tries to find the answer by analyzing meteorological data from the Hexi Corridor as well as the observational data of light and vegetation in the Minqin desert area. The results show that the solar energy converted from 1 m2 of PV panels is equivalent to the solar energy that is utilized by 260.75 m2 of desert plants in the desert area. In China, there is vast area of desert and Gobi, with frequent dust storms and aeolian sand, as well as rich sunlight resources. Therefore, to develop the PV industry in the desert and Gobi regions will not only create considerable economic benefits, but will also be of great ecological significance. On the one hand, PV can effectively regulate thermodynamic equilibrium on the surface, helping to prevent sandstorms and reduce aeolian sand. The development of the PV industry is a win-win that generates economic returns and provides ecological protection by combating desertification. On the other hand, the PV industry can be developed without taking up arable land or other types of land. There are frequently high winds in the desert and Gobi region. PV power plants, together with wind power generation, are useful to transform and consume the power source that creates duststorms and aeolian sandflow in the desert and Gobi areas. This results in fewer sandstorms and reduced aeolian sandflow.