LHASA, July 21 (Xinhua) -- With solar power plants aplenty and household solar facilities a commonplace, over 600,000 people in Tibet Autonomous Region use solar electricity, the local government said.
China has spent over 4 billion yuan (644 million U.S. dollars) to increase solar power capacity to 200 megawatts in the southwestern region, with the sunniest skies in China, according to Tibet science and technology department.
The Xigaze sand Yangbajain photovoltaic plants have gone online in the last five years, with solar water heaters and 400,000 solar cookers given to Tibetan families.
"The solar cookers have saved the trouble of burning yak dung, and now we can use electric blenders to make buttered tea," said Ngawang Quco, whose village in Comai County in Lhoka installed photovoltaic facilities last year.
The region also has many solar-powered phone base stations run by China Mobile. About 79 percent of the company's 1,000 base stations in Tibet are driven by solar energy. Even the mobile signal and network coverage along the climbing routes on the north face of Mount Qomolangma come through solar power.
China has been raising the proportion of clean energy in its energy structure. By 2014, solar power capacity reached 28.05 gigawatts, 400 times of that of 2005, and there are plans to increase the amount to around 100 gigawatts by 2020.
During an interview with the BBC in June, Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said China should be given more credit for its clean electricity.
IEA says China spent more than 80 billion U.S. dollars on new renewable generating capacity in 2014, as much as the EU (46 bln dollars) and the U.S. (34 bln dollars) combined.