Construction of China's largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant is scheduled to begin this year in Qinghai Province, an employee with one of the plant's investors is believed to have revealed recently.

According to a report by, the individual indicated that Qinghai New Energy Group Co. Ltd. plans to build a 30 megawatt (MW) solar array as the first phase of a 1 gigawatt (GW) project in the province's Qaidam Basin.

Qinghai New Energy Group and China Technology Development Group Corp. will reportedly invest approx. $146.20m in the first phase, which will be built with both thin-film solar cells and polysilicon solar cells.

Feeding on gases
When thinking of the electronics industry the most commonly referred to gases tend to be silane, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), ammonia and high purity nitrogen. There are also an assortment of carrier gases which fulfil an equally significant role within the electronics and semiconductor industry, with each gas used in a varying degree or quantity.

Thin-film solar cell technology is, perhaps, the hottest new trend at present, providing increased gases demand and attracting investment from the gases industry and beyond.

Most of the major gas companies have signed supply contracts with PV producers and while growth of around 8% per year (until 2010) had been expected in traditional semiconductor segments, the annual anticipation for the solar sector was last year though to be around 30%.

Gases are fundamental to this sector and in a special feature article last year, Steve Pilgrim, Global Marketing Manager for Linde Electronics, told gasworld how large volumes of gases would be required as the sector continues to grow.

“I think the key thing to note is that the industry is not new, but the latest process development (thin film cells) is going to need large volumes of H2 & Silane to deposit the film, and CVD chamber cleaning gases (traditionally NF3, but increasingly F2 on cost and environmental grounds) to cope with the predicted demand,$quot; Pilgrim said.

Controlling stakes
Qinghai New Energy Group, formerly the Qinghai New Energy Institute, has controlling stakes in four PV-related companies, and minority stakes in three others.

The company was established in 2005 and its business is thought to cover the entire PV industry chain.

China Technology Development Group meanwhile, was set up in 1995 and entered the PV industry in 2007. The Nasdaq-listed company's manufactures thin-film solar cells and building-integrated photovoltaic systems.