Nights, as well as days, in Oulaxiuma, a township in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gannan in Gansu Province, are being illuminated by the sun.
"Our nights were once lit up by ghee or candles. But since the solar power station went into operation last year, nights are as bright as days," said Zhoima, a herdsman in Oulaxiuma.
Until the end of 1999, more than seven million families of villagers and herdsmen in more than 20,000 out-of-the-way villages in the west that the electrical network did not cover had been living without electricity.
In 2000, the government started the "Light Project," planning to supply power for the 20 million people in about 10 years with new energy technologies such as photovoltaic and wind power generation.
Photovoltaic power generation is a technology to change solar energy into electric power through conversion appliances. As most of the west is at high altitude and gets sufficient sunlight, photovoltaic power generation by using solar energy is effective in these remote villages.
Oulaxiuma is one of the earliest to benefit from this technology. In October 2002, two 56-kilowatt photovoltaic power stations went into operation in Oulaxiuma and 120 families began a new life with electricity.
"I bought a TV set two years ago, but it had been an ornament until electricity was sent to my home. Now we can watch TV every day, and a new world is opened before us," said Zhaxi, a herdsman living in Oulaxiuma.
Beishan Township in inner Tengger Desert is another once "dark" region of Gansu Province lit up by solar energy.
"Days are easier since three photovoltaic power stations were put into use in 2002. Every night, when I come home tired from work, I can have dinner in the daylight lamp, watch TV or listen to the radio," said Hanjun, a villager in Beishan.
More than 9,000 families from nine townships in Gansu Province have benefited from the Light Project since it was put into effect two years ago.