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World’s largest floating solar farm can produce 40 megawatts of energy and power 15,000 homes a year

Source: VCG/ChinaDaily

Floating on a manmade lake above a decomissioned coal mine, the Chinese facility is many times more powerful than the next biggest floating solar farm.

More than 120,000 photovoltaic panels were installed on floats above the old coal mine

Earlier this summer, a gigantic 40-megawatt floating solar farm started generating power in Huainan, a coal-rich city in East China’s Anhui province. The farm could power about 15,000 homes a year. More than 120,000 photovoltaic panels were installed on floats covering around 86 hectares on the water surface of a coal mining subsidence area, according to the company running the project, a branch of the Sungrow Power Supply Co Ltd.

China: floating to the top of the energy pool Win/Win: The solar panels don’t take up space on land, and they are more effective because water cools down their electronics. Also, they can increase the amount of available drinking or irrigation water by limiting evaporation from the lake. Source: Facebook/INSH

Floating solar farms have the advantage of not taking up scarce land resources

Deputy general manager of the branch, Xiao Fuqin, said in an interview with China Daily that the floats are 200 to 300 meters away from the bank on the subsidence area that is 400 hectares, to ensure the decreasing water does not impact the farm.

"On the surface, the floats just stay on the water, and the truth is that more than 1,000 reinforced concrete piles are installed on the bed, keeping the floats in order," Xiao explained.

The farm has a life of 25 years, and that demands the facilities must be designed to resist the aging factors, such as the heat, salt and humidity that comes from being on the water.

A floating solar farm has advantages of not taking up scarce land resources compared with a conventional solar farm, protecting the environment and benefiting the local development. Drones patrol the floating solar farm, said Xiao. "The drones are the patrollers, and they will first arrive at the scene to supervise and take photos."

Source: ChinaDaily

A floating solar farm on a coal mining subsidence area in Panji district of Huainan, Anhui province, on June 7, 2017
A green fuel future floats above a fossil fuel past A floating solar farm on a coal mining subsidence area in Panji district of Huainan, Anhui province, on June 7, 2017 Source: VCG/ChinaDaily

The Sungrow solar farm is just one small piece in China’s huge push towards renewable energy

According to Irina Slav at Business Insider, China recently announced it would invest $361 billion in renewable power by 2020, and by 2022 could produce 320 gigawatts of wind and solar power and 340 gigawatts of hydropower. Zheng reports that currently renewables are responsible for 11 percent of China’s energy and may reach 20 percent by 2030.

While the floating solar plant is the largest in the world, it pales in comparison to some of China’s non-floating solar projects. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park on the Tibetan plateau hosts 4 million solar panels that produce 850 megawatts of energy. Even that will soon be eclipsed by a project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, which will have 6 million solar panels and produce 2 gigawatts of power.

Source: Smithsonian

Workers installing panels at the floating solar farm in Panji district of Huainan, Anhui province, on June 7, 2017
China is becoming a green energy superpower Workers installing panels at the floating solar farm in Panji district of Huainan, Anhui province, on June 7, 2017 Source: VCG/ChinaDaily

Then there’s India’s Ultra Mega Solar Parks…

So far we haven’t even mentioned India, who have managed to break the "Largest Solar Park in the World" record every few months for the past couple of years, with one state or another upping the ante as fast as the record books can keep up. 

An “Ultra Mega Solar Park” is a solar power project greater than 500 MW. 

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced plans in 2014 to accelerate large scale solar energy with a target of achieving 20,000 MW of solar parks by 2019.

The NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council, India) team recently had a site visit to the largest solar park in the world in the district of Kurnool in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Kurnool is home to the 1,000 MW solar park—the largest single-location operational solar park in the world.  

The Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park is just the beginning. The Andhra Pradesh government has another massive 1,500 MW solar park slated in the region of Kadapa, and two more large scale solar parks nearing completion. With an additional 2,750 MW of solar energy set to be added to the state’s energy mix, Andhra Pradesh is the one of the leading Indian states in solar energy—neck-in-neck with Telangana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

India’s solar energy progress:

At the start of India’s National Solar Mission in 2010, India had a mere 17 MW of installed solar energy with the aim of 20 GW by 2020. Many criticized the Solar Mission’s 20 GW as “too ambitious” for India at the time. Just a few years later, India has ramped up the its solar target to 100 GW of solar power by 2022—a five-fold increase, and is home to the largest solar park in the world.
India currently has over 12 GW of solar energy, and plans to achieve a total of 20 GW of solar energy by March 2018. 
Yes, much more needs to be done, but the progress is remarkable. And with the climate talks coming up in Bonn in the coming days, India is demonstrating real clean energy progress on the ground.


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