Tengger Desert Solar Park seen from space by NASA's Earth Observatory
Spanning some 43 square kilometers (16.6 square miles) in the open desert—and supplying power to more than 600,000 homes—Tengger Desert Solar Park was constructed at a never-before-seen scale, earning the impressive title of world's largest photovoltaic power facility both in size and production when it was completed in 2015. A joint effort of China National Grid and Zhongwei Power Supply Co., Tengger represents a renewable energy revolution underway in China: The country has pledged to have clean energy supply 35 percent of its total energy needs by 2030.
In just a quarter of a century, China has gone from having basically no solar output to becoming the global leader, installing more than double the amount of the next closest country. Although still dependent on fossil fuels, China will account for nearly half of all global renewable energy by 2022. While there's little public record about Tengger, it is a powerful symbol of China's push to sustainability. Such megaprojects, says Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies Australasia, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, are “just the tip of the iceberg.”