China dispatch: Violent sand storms hit PV projects in northwest China

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The construction of PV power stations in China has largely been focused in the northwest of China, due to high irradiance and low land cost. But sand storms also frequently occur in the region, especially in spring.

At about 1:00am on Tuesday, a heavy sand storm firstly hit a PV project in Hami, which is in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China. The storm was around wind level ten, and destroyed the tents in construction area.

Local media said more than 130 people got trapped by the storm, with two reported missing and five vehicles damaged. With help from local government and police, these people were transferred to a safe area. According to the construction unit on the project, Sinohydro Foundation Engineering Co., nobody was injured or was killed because of the sand storm.

About 7:00am on the same morning, in Gansu province, a sand storm hit a PV project currently being constructed Luneng Group in Dunhuang. It was reported that the wind level was above seven and visibility was less than 50 meters. All construction work had to stop as a result.

Alongside disruption to construction, research shows that sand storms can result in dirty modules and reduced power output, as high as a 15% reduction. O&M solutions in the region will have to include a regular cleaning schedule as a result.

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