China builds world’s largest floating solar plant

In the beginning of June 2017, workers brought a solar energy plant online capable of producing 40 megawatts of power.

That’s cool all by itself, but this solar “farm” floats on a manmade lake in China’s Anhui province, and it is the largest floating solar project in the world.

The massive power plant was built by Sungrow Power Supply, and can produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes. The exact size of the operation has not been revealed, but it produces twice as much energy as the previous holder of the largest-floating-solar-plant title, which was launched by Xinyi Solar in 2016.

China floating solar plant

Building solar plants on bodies of water helps prevent agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for energy use – especially manmade lakes that are not ecologically sensitive. The water cools the electronics in the solar panels, which helps them work more efficiently.

Britain did the same thing for similar reasons in 2016 when it built a 23,000-panel floating solar farm on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Heathrow Airport. The plant helps power the Thames Water treatment plant. The solar farm in Anhui province consists of 160,000 solar panels.

China is beginning to lead the world in clean energy investment, and the nation is projected to get 20% of its power consumption from low-emission energy by 2030.

China Still Stricken By Toxic Air

China is plagued by toxic air pollution – smog is such a problem that the country expects to have more than 800,000 cases of lung cancer a year by 2020. The city of Beijing is currently the world’s top carbon emitter, with 2/3 of its electricity still fueled by coal.

China air quality index

But the country has been working on innovative ways of fighting pollution. In 2018, Nanjing, China, is expected to start building Nanjing Green Towers, 2 buildings that will serve as vertical forests stylized with about 1,100 trees and more than 2,500 various shrubs and plants. The towers will absorb enough carbon dioxide to create 132 pounds of oxygen daily.

Though China’s floating solar energy plant is the largest of its type in the world, it pales in comparison to the land-locked Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, which hosts 4 million solar panels – together producing 850 megawatts of energy. And that project will eventually pale in comparison to a project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, which will house more than 6 million solar panels and produce 2 gigawatts of power.

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