In China, the world’s largest floating solar power plant is now online. Fittingly located where coal used to be mined, this installation is another factor helping propel China up the world’s leaderboard of renewable energy.

Built by Sungrow, the 40MW plant is afloat in water that is up to 10 meters deep, and has been successfully linked to Huainan, China’s grid. The location choice being in an area where coal-mining operations formerly took place was intentional.

The water there has now been mineralised and is mostly useless. The lake itself was only formed after years of mining operations as the surrounding land collapsed and created the cavity, which was then filled with rainwater.

WHY A FLOATING PLANT?

The reason why floating solar plants are advantageous is because they put otherwise useless water and land to good use, with the water naturally cooling the system and regulating ambient temperatures – while improving generation and limiting long-term heat damage.

The customised floating PV arrays work efficiently despite the higher levels of humidity that is present when fresh water evaporates.

It’s location also means that less space is taken up in otherwise densely populated regions, which is particularly key in China. The country is home to more than 100 cities with populations over one million each.

CHINA LEADS

China has long been one of the worst offenders for carbon emissions worldwide with a heavy reliance on coal, but now the government has turned the page in a significant way. They have become the defacto world leader in the adoption of renewables, especially with the United States shunning their role under Trump.

China really is looking to become the beacon of light as we head toward a greener and more sustainable future. Every country should be taking this approach, and many are. There is hope! And a floating solar panel plant is another ingenious innovation that will help us along the way.