China’s Qinghai province seeks development through ecological advantages

Photo shows beautiful scenery of Sanjiangyuan, home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers in Yushu, Qinghai province. (Photo by Han Jiajun/People’s Daily Online)

Northwest China’s Qinghai province is a place with fascinating natural sceneries. How to find a path to poverty alleviation and the development of local economy while ensuring ecological conservation was a complicated topic that brought huge numbers of tests and challenges.

Guided by green development philosophies, the province has made tremendous efforts to dig into clean energy, such as photovoltaic, optothermal, and wind power generation, which not only offers energy for people’s daily life and its production, but also improved residents’ income and lifted ecological environment. The province has successfully struck a balance between development and protection, and achieved a win-win situation for poverty alleviation and ecological conservation.

Ecological conservation is not on the opposite side of economic development. The two have a dialectical relation. A sound interaction between industrial development and ecological protection calls for respect for the law of nature, which enables the efficient, clean and sustainable use of resources.

Qinghai province, situated on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has a high altitude, thin air and long sunshine duration. It boasts rich solar, wind, and hydraulic resources. Making good use of the “gift” from nature to develop clean energy will generate infinite wealth.

In a green industry development park in Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Qinghai province, there is a 609-square kilometer photovoltaic power station with a total capacity of 7,000 MW. The electricity generated is connected to the national power grid and able to produce direct profits. Besides, multiple village-level photovoltaic power stations have been established in the part for poverty alleviation. Sixty percent of the profits generated by these stations are used to develop village economy, and the rest is salaries for public-service jobs.

Ecological resources are Qinghai’s advantages and the province’s development relies on such advantages. Compared with non-renewable resources, ecological resources of Qinghai enjoy much more development potential and can benefit more people. As a province that gathers diverse landscapes, such as snow-capped mountains, meadows, forests, lakes, and deserts, Qinghai is a desired tourist destination.

For instance, Chotsa village in Niandi township of Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture, has shaken off poverty by developing tourism industry. After being relocated to an exit of an express road, the village, which is also crossed by the National Highway 109, has built hotels, restaurants and supermarkets with the profits gained from photovoltaic power generation and special tourism poverty-alleviation funds.

The clean energy industry, apart from benefiting the province, is also able to further consolidate and improve local ecology. In a photovoltaic industrial park in Gonghe county of the province, grass are planted under photovoltaic panels to feed sheep. In the past, this place was a wasteland suffering severe desertification. Since the establishment of photovoltaic power stations, the panels have recovered local ecology by shielding a part of wind and sunshine. Many villagers herd their sheep in the park, which substantially improves their income. In addition, the development of photovoltaic industry has also brought clean electricity to local villagers, tremendously reducing the pollution caused by the burning of coals and petrol.

Residents in Madoi county, situated in the core area of Sanjiangyuan, meaning the home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers, used to generate power by diesel. The heating in winter was also facilitated by coal-burning. Thanks to a 4.4 MW photovoltaic power station built in the county with the assistance from the State Grid, as well as the efforts of local government to replace coals with clean energy, Madoi county witnessed obvious reduction of pollutant emission, and recovery of local environment.

Qinghai’s story proves that poverty alleviation and local economic development shall never be achieved at the sacrifice of ecology. On the contrary, local advantages shall be fully exploited to coordinate industrial development and ecological conservation.

By pursuing the path of green development, and making greater fortune from building a better environment, China will continuously improve the sense of gain for its people.

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