The country’s first 100-megawatt molten salt solar thermal power plant in Dunhuang, Northwest China’s Gansu province, has successfully generated power while operating at full capacity, China Daily reported.

Nearly 20 hours of operating records show the systems at the power plant have been normal and stable. The facility also set a new record by generating over 1.8 million kilowatt-hours of power day and night, with all indicators suggesting it has reached or exceeded its designed values.

This marks another important step after the plant created 1.67 million kWh of power over 34 hours of continuous operations in mid-April, the report said.

Unlike wind power or photovoltaic power generation stations, the molten salt can also be stored and used to generate power on demand, even at night, and the system is nonpolluting as well,

Huang Wenbo, vice-chairman of Beijing Shouhang, said the power plant has withstood the test of running under the harshest environmental conditions in different seasons, which means it can be widely used in northwestern areas.

The power station is among China’s first batch of solar thermal power generation demonstration projects, the report said. With an investment of 3 billion yuan (US$433.1 million), it was built by Beijing Shouhang IHW Resources Saving Technology Co. Ltd., which wholly owns the power station’s intellectual property rights.

The power plant, also called the “super mirror power plant,” works by using 12,000 mirrors that concentrate the sunlight onto a receiver at the top of a solar tower, which then heats the molten salt.

It is designed to generate 390 million kWh of power annually, which can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 350,000 metric tons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual environmental benefit derived from 667 hectares of forested land.