Short items

Photovoltaics hit the big time

With an investment of 9.1 billion yuan (US$13.3 billion), the construction of China’s largest demonstration solar photovoltaic (PV) power station was launched on 6 December in the southwestern province of Yunnan. The Kunming Shilin Demonstration PV station will have an installed capacity of 166 MW - less than one tenth of a typical power station - and will begin operation in 2010.  

The station consists of two areas, including a 66 MW showcase site and 100 MW production demonstration site. The latter is expected to generate electricity of 118 million kilowatt hours per year, which will all be transmitted to the civil grid to test the stability, operability and efficiency of PV power. The station is invested by Huaneng Group, China’s largest power generation player.  

World’s largest clean coal plant 

US-based Clean Coal Technologies Inc (CCTI) and China’s Sino-Mongolia International Railroad Systems have co-signed a 
US$250-million deal on 2 December to build a clean coal plant in Inner Mongolia, northern China. CCTI says that the plant, to be constructed in the first quarter of 2009, will use the company’s liquefaction technologies to strip pollutants out of poor quality coal, creating cleaner burning coal to supply a newly constructed power station.  

It will be put into use by the end of 2010, with an initial annual output of 1.5 million tonnes of clean coal. The company is targeting a final output of 80 million tonnes a year, most of which will be used for coal-to-liquid fuel production. According to CCTI, total investment for the clean coal and liquefaction plants is expected to reach US$8 billion over a 10-year period.

Wacker and Dow Corning start silicone joint venture

Germany’s Wacker Chemie AG and US firm Dow Corning have begun production of siloxane and fumed silica raw materials at their joint venture US$1.2 billion plant in Zhangjiagang (Jiangsu province). With a combined capacity for siloxane and pyrogenic silica of approximately 200,000 tonnes per year, the plant is expected to begin full operation by the end of 2010.  

Siloxane is a key starting material for the manufacture of various silicone products which will be made at the site. Pyrogenic or fumed silica (a fine particulate form of silicon dioxide) is used as a filler in silicone elastomers and to adjust viscosity in coatings, and inks. The two companies will separately market and sell the products made in the joint venture, which will be mainly used to meet demands in China and other Asian nations for silicone materials.