Modern, green Silk Road set to power nation

The China-Eurasia Expo 2012 drew to a close on Friday, September 8, following a memorable week which saw the finest and latest of Xinjiang’s green development projects showcased to investors from across the Eurasian region.

The expo, which aimed to generate investment for the region and support the creation of a new green Silk Road, also attracted the interest of both domestic and foreign companies.

In light of the Expo’s principle aims, Yiwu County in the Hami Prefecture of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region deserves closer examination. The county currently manages the construction of several clean and renewable energy projects, which in the near future will undoubtedly be of interest to the whole Eurasian region and its new green Silk Road.

Of particular note are the Huadian Power Generation Project and the Naomaohu Phase I Wind Farm, which are two examples of Yiwu’s most recent strides in the clean energy sector.

Situated in the outskirts of the county, the former employs 1,500 workers, all of whom live in nearby dormitories. The plant’s CO2 emissions are lower than those of other fuel-fired power plants and it currently produces sufficient coal-fired electricity to supply the whole of Xinjiang.

In the future, any surplus electricity produced by the plant will be made available to other parts of China, especially power-starved regions in southern China. In order to improve the efficiency of energy transportation, plans are currently being drawn up for the construction of both a highway and a railway from the plant all the way to Lanzhou in Gansu province.

The wind farm is one of China’s seven national-level wind power plants and it produces ten million kilowatts per week. It consists of 33 smaller turbines, producing 750 kilowatts per hour, and 66 large ones, producing 1500 kilowatts per hour, and the project is still in its early stages. The first phase of construction was completed in 2011, at a price tag of 400 million yuan; the second phase, which focuses on expansion, will cost a further 400 million yuan and is set to be completed by 2013.

Besides its clean energy projects, Yiwu County also features traditional agriculture. Yiwu’s ubiquitous honey melon fields are its mainstay and the melons are Hami Prefecture’s top export product, drawing workers from across China, who flock there in summer to make some extra money.

These migrant workers get their hands dirty working in the fields for ten to twelve hours per day and harvest several thousand yuan worth of the crop over the course of some two months (from mid-July to early September). The melons are sold to merchants within the region as well as to those elsewhere in the country.

Yiwu is another example of a Xinjiang area that has managed to combine traditional agriculture, in this case the growing of honey melons, with state-of-the-art clean energy projects. This modern fusion makes the county another important piece in the puzzle of constructing a contemporary green Silk Road.

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