PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (9): 1049-1054.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2010.09.004

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis on Mainland China's Solar Energy Distribution and Potential to Utilize Solar Energy as an Alternative Energy Source

LI Ke1,2, HE Fanneng1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduated University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2010-01-01 Revised:2010-04-01 Online:2010-09-25 Published:2010-09-25


With rapid population growing and dramatic industrial economy developing, the world faces the dual challenges of massive energy requirements and environmental issuescaused by extensive fossil fuel depletion. One of the main candidates for faxing these challenges are renewable sources of energy (including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro,wave and tidal energies). Among these sources, solar energy comes at the top of the list due to its abundance, and more even distribution in nature than any other renewable energy types. However, analyses of China's solar energy potential so far have generally relied onclimatological empirical formula which is hard to spread and undeveloped drawing technique. Therefore, based on general solar radiation observations taken from 99 China's radiation stations and sunshine duration observations taken from 387 of China's 752 meteorological stations, this textcpunted average annual solar total radiation as the factor of abundance, sunshine duration as the factor of stabilization and available sunshine days(≥3 hours) as the factor of guarantee from the years 1995-2004. Using ArcGIS cartography software and the aforementioned data, the following text depicted a series of maps of mainland China's solar energy distribution. Then these maps were overlaid to present a more accurate picture of mainland China's solar energy potential. An analysis of these maps leads to the following conclusions. The greatest solar energy potential is in the Qingzang Plateau, Northern Gansu, Eastern Xinjiang and Mid-Western Inner Mongolia, where are the best locations for extensive solar energy utilization; solar energy potential in Xinjiang, Eastern Inner Mongolia, western part of Northeast Plain, Northern Hebei and Ningxia, Southeast Qinghai and Western Sichuan, is the second best, also perfect for solar energy development. In the areas of the northeast part of Northeast Plain, most parts of Loess Plateau, Yunnan and Hainan, Northern Huabei Plain, and Northern Xinjiang, solar energy potential is at average level. The other areas of mainland China have small solar energy potentials due to the lack of solar radiation.

Key words: solar energy, regional analysis, potential of utilization, mainland China