China continues green push with world’s largest floating solar farm
China has connected a vast, floating photovoltaic (PV) farm to the local power grid, flicking the switch on the largest facility of its kind in the world.
The 40-megawatt facility is located in the city of Huainan, in Anhui province – an area known for its fossil fuel mining industry. In a neat twist, the floating solar farm is based in a flooded former coal mining area, turned into a lake after heavy rain and ground subsidence.
Built by PV manufacturer Sungrow Power Supply Co, the Huainan facility dwarfs the next-biggest floating solar farm – a 20-megawatt stretch, also in Anhui province.
China’s carbon emission record is near-globally scorned, with headlines about smog-ridden cities undermining the country’s global image as a developing, modern nation. This has pivoted somewhat over the last few years, however, with President Xi Jinping becoming a surprising cheerleader for the Paris climate deal in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to US president.
In fact, China is spearheading the adoption of solar power. The country’s solar power output increased by 80% over the first three months of 2017, managing 21.4 billion kilowatt-hours over the year’s first quarter. As well as the floating solar farms, China is also home to the world’s largest land-based solar plant, covering 27-square-kilometres in Qinghai province.
The decrease in the cost of solar technology has much to do with the sudden growth of farms like these, but there’s also a sense of China seeking to establish itself as a green superpower. It is still facing many issues with carbon emissions and the breathing health of its urban populace, but projects such as the one in Huainan are an encouraging sign that China could build its infrastructure around renewable energy.