China is home to the world’s biggest floating solar power plant, which has been connected to the city’s power grid since May 2017.
The solar farm in the city of Huainan, in the Anhui province, can generate 40 megawatts of electricity—enough to power 15,000 homes—according to Chinese power inverter-supplier Sungrow Power Supply.
The solar farm occupies an abandoned flooded area once used for intensive coal mining. The panels float on the surface of the water, which ranges in depth from four to 10 metres.
While the exact size of the plant has not been disclosed, its capacity is double that of the solar farm by Xinyi Solar, also in Huainan, which was previously considered the world’s biggest.
Floating solar farms are attractive propositions as they take advantage of areas that would otherwise go unused. The water also helps to naturally cool the panels’ surface, reducing the risk of overheating.
Earlier in 2016, a floating solar farm began operating on the outskirts of London with a capacity to generate 6 megawatts of electricity—it was considered the biggest at the time, according to a report in The Guardian.
Electronics multinational Kyocera is constructing a floating farm on a reservoir in land-scarce Japan, which will generate up to 13.7 megawatts when completed in 2018.
These are dwarfed by Sungrow’s 40-megawatt floating farm. (In comparison, Denmark’s wind turbines are capable of producing just 9 megawatts.)
Even so, floating solar farms generate a tiny fraction of what regular solar farms produce. Solar facilities that are currently being built in South Australia and India will be able to produce 330 and 648 megawatts, respectively.
However, this is a step in the right direction for reducing dependence on coal and increasing the use of sustainable energy.
China is now the largest solar energy producer in the world, with a capacity of 77.42 gigawatts as at the end of last year, according to the National Energy Administration.
Other large-scale solar projects in the country include the installation of 300 panels, mounted on piles above a fish farm at the Changhe and Zhouxiang reservoirs in Cixi, Zhejiang province, which can generate 220 megawatts.
In early-2017, the world’s biggest solar farm was unveiled in a remote part of the Tibetan plateau. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park spans 27 square kilometres—almost the size of Macau—and can generate a whopping 850 megawatts.
And when completed, the Ningxia Solar Farm in China will cover 4,607 hectares with six million panels and supply 2 gigawatts (GW) of power, making it the largest solar farm in the world. — Construction+ Online