Construction is about to start on a 77 MW solar heat plant for the Water World leisure resort in Handan, a city in the northern Chinese province of Hebei. The materials for the 110,000 m2 field of parabolic trough collectors are already on site. The car parks, on the roofs of which the solar thermal system will be built, have been put up as well. Their final inspection, however, is still pending, since Handan is in a region that went into lockdown following reports of Covid-19 cases. The information given in this article was supplied by Yu Wang, General Manager of Inner Mongolia XuChen Energy, the technology provider and future operator of the system, during an interview in April. He expects construction to stay on schedule so that the leisure resort will be able to open before the end of this year. Meanwhile, XuChen has also been drawing up plans for other large eco-tourism resorts with solar district heating supply.
“Handan and the regional government support the construction of Water World and want the tourism resort to start operating as early as this year. That is a realistic timetable, as the solar field is the last component to be built still,” Wang said during his interview. Both the heat supply system and the technical room has been finished already. Depending on how the pandemic progresses, construction on the collector field could begin in May and, according to Wang, will take about six months. Once completed this field will be the largest solar district heating plant with parabolic troughs worldwide.
The troughs and receivers came from XuChen’s factory in Baotou, Inner Mongolia. Since 1996, XuChen has been running two parabolic trough systems for local heat supply, with a total capacity of 65 MWth. “This first field had receivers that came from Chinese supplier Shandong Huiyin Energy. In the meantime, we have set up our own production facility for receivers in Baotou so we are now using in-house technology,” said Wang. According to XuChen, the Baotou factory has a production capacity of 200,000 units a year.
Solar heat for snowmaking
The solar circuit runs on thermal oil, which provides heat for two applications. About 60 % of it is used for space heating and hot water at a temperature of 80 °C. As part of a second loop, the other 40 % is used to generate steam in a heat exchanger to make snow, a process that requires a temperature of 150 °C.
|Aperture area of parabolic trough field
|Solar thermal capacity of field
|Start of construction on parabolic troughs
|Scheduled end of construction
|Length of district heating network
|Heat transfer medium
|Solar circuit temperature
|Solar heat application
|Space heating (60 % of total) and snowmaking for the resort’s Snow World (40 %)
|Storage tank in space heating circuit
|60,000 m3 stainless steel storage tank providing a maximum temperature
of 80 °C
|Direct use of thermal oil at about 150 °C (no storage)
|Investor and owner of solar plant (and tourism resort)
|Handan Jianxu New Energy
|Technology supplier and operator of solar field
|Inner Mongolia XuChen Energy
Key figures of Water World solar heat system in Handan, China. Jianxu New Energy was founded in 2018 by XuChen and two of its shareholders with the aim of constructing and operating the eco-friendly leisure resort in Handan. Source: XuChen Energy
Plans for even larger eco-tourism resort in Hainan
“These sorts of large solar thermal projects are only possible because we get good support from the government,” explained Wang. For example, the Handan system will serve as a demonstration project for China’s Double Carbon strategy and is named SolarThermal+. It says hat C02 emissions will peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality will be achieved by 2060.
Regarding Handan, the central government has granted Jianxu New Energy an interest-free loan of Renminbi (RBM) 2 billion over 15 years. From a business standpoint, this has made the solar heat plant for leisure resort a very interesting investment , Wang said. He confirmed that investor has not received any direct subsidies for the construction of the solar system itself.