Inside the Ruicheng PV Pioneer Project

Inside the Ruicheng PV Pioneer Projectarticle picture
Published: Monday, November 27, 2017 You may know that most of the PV panels in the world are manufactured in China. But something you may not know is that, according to official statistics, in 2016 China produced 57.7 GW of PV panels and the new generating capacity in China was 34.54 GW. The total capacity was 77.42 GW by the end of 2016. So you can imagine how fast the speed of development is, or you can call it explosive growth of PV power plants.

Solarsky provided the solar monitoring stations featuring Kipp & Zonen instruments

Today let me share a small part of this growth, the Ruicheng PV Pioneer Project. We, Beijing Solarsky Technology, use the best guidelines for the selection and installation of equipment for monitoring solar radiation and all our stations are based on a fully equipped Kipp & Zonen automatic sun tracker and radiometers.

As a partner of Kipp & Zonen we have built and installed all the solar monitoring stations for the PV Pioneer Project. We focus on renewable energy and have gained a lot of expertise in this field in China. 

About the PV Pioneer Project

The first PV pioneer project was around Datong, a city located in the north of Shanxi province that was famous for coal reserves. After years of coal extraction, the land above the coal mine can’t be used and became dangerous for people, even a heavy rain can cause land subsidence. So the government of Datong city wants to use this land again and create economic benefit. This is how the Datong PV pioneer project was born. 

14 solar monitoring stations for the Datong PV Pioneer project

After the construction of all 13 PV plants in this project, the government wanted to build an independent platform for testing their generating efficiency and some other parameters. So we were contracted to install 14 solar monitor stations! Each station is based on a SOLYS2 sun tracker to monitor GHI, DHI and DNI with two CMP10 pyranometers and a CHP1 pyrheliometer. We have also installed one CMP11 pyranometer to monitor tilted irradiance at every station.

The project was featured in Kipp & Zonen Newsletter number 39

The Datong PV Pioneer project was really successful and many government officials of other cities and other provinces come to Datong to have a visit and study. As a result many other cities have applied for their own PV Pioneer project which can contribute to their GDP and not cause environmental damage. Ruicheng is one of the second batch of these projects.

Daniel Liu, CEO of Beijing Solarsky Technology, introducing SOLYS2 to government officials in Datong.

The next PV Pioneer project deployed; Ruicheng


Ruicheng is a small city located in the south-west of Shanxi province with a population of 410,000. The Ruicheng PV pioneer project has two stages. The first stage is 500 MW, and the second could be 520 MW. The investment in this project reaches 4.2 billion Chinese Yuan, the site covers an area of 14 square kilometres and there are six PV plant companies participating in the first-stage.

Thanks to the success of the Datong project, Solarsky has installed 7 high performance solar monitoring stations; one for each site and one for comparison. All stations use a GPRS modem for data transmission, so that the central server PC can receive real-time data and display the information on a large screen.

I took my drone to the site to capture the beauty of the plant and the stations from high up. It looks really cool and you will love it.


The installation of 7 Solar Monitoring Stations in Ruicheng


The installation of the Ruicheng project was not that easy. We had 7 stations to be built on 7 different sites. The distance between the farthest east and west sites was only 30 kilometers but the road condition is not that good. Moreover, some sites are on the hillside and you have to walk for a while to get there. So every day you spend lot of time struggling with transport.

Luckily, all instruments are working well after installation, thanks to the good product quality of Kipp & Zonen. With the help of Mr. Leo Teng, who provides the technical support of Kipp & Zonen in China, we spent four days on each station. The work also included the construction of the base for the SOLYS, a 2 by 2 meter block, and building the white security fence.

Leo and Shiqi Ren during the installation of the SOLYS2 sun tracker at Ruicheng

Mr. Leo Teng from Kipp & Zonen and me

We went out to the sites at 7 a.m. every morning, and went back after sunset. The conditions on site are hard so you have to make sure to bring enough water and food. There’s no possibility to buy something in the middle of the PV plants, so you have to do lot of preparation for the next day.

When I see the pictures and video, I’m proud of myself and our partners. We are contributing to protection of Earth's environment and also to the economy of China. Ruicheng PV Pioneer project is another small step that leads to a better future. 

My tips & tricks for other engineers


Since I started working with Kipp & Zonen last year, I have installed at least 20 SOLYS2 sun trackers and I know some technical engineers always spend a lot of time adjusting the sun sensor to align the spots of CHP1 pyrheliometer and the mounting clamps. So I want to share some tips with you that can help you save your time and let you align everything in 15 minutes.

First, is that after you assembled the SOLYS2 at the site, please level it but do not tighten the three bolts of the tripod that attach the SOLYS2 yet. Also, do not connect the sun sensor to the SOLYS2.

Second you power it up. After it stops moving, it will point to the direction which it calculates is the position of the sun. So you need to turn SOLYS2 to the correct direction manually, to get the light spot vertically above or under the spot hole on the pyrheliometer, not to the left or right. Now it’s time to fasten those three bolts.

If in luck, you will see the sun light spot around the target hole. If not, you will need to loosen the two screws clamping the round side plate to the tracker axis; now you can move the pyrheliometer up and down to get the sun spot on the target. Tighten the side plate screws hard.


Correct sun alignment of the sun tracker and pyrheliometer.png
Correct sun alignment of the sun tracker and pyrheliometer

Now it is time to adjust the sun sensor position. First, check the correct spacing between the three mounting points with springs to be same, about 21mm, to make the sun sensor base parallel to the pyrheliometer mounting clamp. Then you plug in the sun sensor to the SOLYS2 and after a few seconds the sun spot will move. Adjust the nuts carefully to bring the spot back on the target and you will finish it in 15 minutes! I hope this can help someone who is not very familiar with SOLYS2 and save you time.


Solar power in China


By the first half year of 2017, PV capacity in China had increased to 101.82GW, of which 84.39GW is large centralised power plants and 17.43GW is local distributed generation. By the end of 2017, this number will increase to 120GW. On July 17th 2017, the National Energy Administration of China released the 13th national five-year plan which is from 2017 to 2022. For new PV plants (not including distributed power) the planned construction capacity is 86.5GW, including pioneer projects that total 32GW.

So, we have a long road ahead and it is not an easy road. We must work closely together with our partners, struggle together on this road and make our customers satisfied with our products and service, make measurement more accurate and more professional. This is our duty!

There is a helpful video about installing the SOLYS2 on the Kipp & Zonen website.

Shiqi Ren

by Shiqi Ren, Technical Training & Support at Beijing Solarsky Technology Co., Ltd.


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