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World’s largest floating solar farm

by Floro Mercene

China has already become a major manufacturer and exporter of renewable energy technology, supplying some two-thirds of the world’s solar panels. The country also has a strong grip on wind power. It produces nearly half of the world’s wind turbines – at a rate of about two every hour.

The Chinese city of Huainan is rich in coal resources. It has one of the largest coal reserves in East Asia, accounting for 32% of East China’s total. Now the city has become home to the world’s largest floating solar farm.

Appropriately, it has been built atop a former coal mine, which had become a lake after being flooded with heavy rain and groundwater. Covering about 100 square miles, it is the largest floating panel facility in the world. The 40-megawatt power plant consists of 120,000 solar panels covering an area of more than 160 American football fields. The $45-million investment could help power 15,000 homes.

Initially it is more expensive to build solar farms on water than on the land. But experts say floating solar panels can run more efficiently in the long run, because they are cooled by the water underneath.

Solar is also an increasingly attractive option for regions or countries that are going through drought. With Brazil’s historic drought drying up its hydroelectric plants, the South American country is turning to solar power to diversify its energy mix to stave off a potential power crisis.

Another advantage of floating solar systems is that they can be hidden from public view. In case of Sonoma County, California, it boasts some of the most beautiful rolling hills, and people don’t want to see them covered by solar panels.