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Install Solar Panels, Rise out of Poverty by Li Fugen,Zheng Liang,Wei Bo,Wang Qian, June 2, 2017 Adjust font size:

Rooftop solar panels gleaming under the sun are a common sight in villages of Zuoquan County. The electricity they generate has been successfully hooked up to the grid at a cost of about RMB 0.98 per watt, so enabling each household to earn an extra income of as much as RMB 7,000 a year. The local government began promoting the photovoltaic industry throughout the county in 2016 in its efforts to alleviate poverty.

The photovoltaic development program is an effective way of tapping Zuoquan’s natural resources and helping villagers to rise above the poverty line. “The government helped me to install the solar panels on my roof, and I earn 7,000 yuan a year from the electricity they generate,” said 71-year-old Lei Hailin of Duanyu Village of Hanwang Town, pointing with his cane to an electricity meter steadily clocking up units. “That means I can stop worrying about surviving on my pension.”

There are 202 poverty-stricken families among the village’s 946 residents, head of the village CPC committee Gao Yajun said. The photovoltaic industry is expected to lift them out of poverty. “Installing panels on the roof of one dwelling costs more than 30,000 yuan,” said Gao. He gave a breakdown of this cost, whereby each family pays 5,000 yuan, the government provides a subsidy of 8,000 yuan, and companies voluntarily participating in the program donate 3,000 yuan. The remaining 20,000 yuan or so is covered by government-subsidized interest-free bank loans each family is eligible for. “The panels can last as long as 25 years,” said Gao. “Free maintenance is provided for the first 10 years.”

The county government also plans to deploy photovoltaic power stations on idle land in Zuoquan’s villages, on stock raising farms, and in vegetable greenhouses, and to build power plants on barren mountains and hillsides. By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) the county aims to build three concentrated power plants, each with a minimum 35 megawatt capacity, so benefiting 3,000 households. It will deploy more than 100 distributed stations each of a 100-kilowatt capacity that will cover 2,500 households, and install rooftop panels on the homes of 10,000 impoverished families, each with a capacity of about five kilowatts. Zuoquan plans to build an installed capacity of 130 megawatts, which will generate 100 million kWh a year and earn each impoverished family an extra income, on average, of more than RMB 3,000.

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