China turns on the world’s largest floating solar farm

World’s largest floating solar farm in Anhui province

Floating on a man-made lake over a collapsed coal mine, the power station in Anhui province can produce 40 megawatts of energy. Built by Sungrow Power Supply, the power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes.

Anhui province is a coal-rich region, and the plant is located on a lake that was once the site of intensive mining. But why build solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs? Building on bodies of water, especially man-made lakes that are not ecologically sensitive, helps protect agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for energy use. The water also cools the electronics in the solar panels, helping them to work more efficiently.

China also boasts of the world’s largest solar farm — the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park hosting 4 million solar panels that produce 850 megawatts of energy. This 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.

China is the leading nation in solar power, having produced 66.2 gigawatts of electricity last year. The country will 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. Currently, renewables are responsible for 11 per cent of China’s energy and may reach 20 per cent by 2030.