China to construct world's largest floating solar project

Construction on 150-megawatt project began in July

HUAINAN, CHINA - JUNE 12: Chinese workers prepare  panels that will be part of a large floating solar farm project under construction by the Sungrow Power Supply Company on a lake caused by a collapsed and flooded coal mine on June 12, 2017 in Huainan, Anhui province, China. The floating solar field, billed as the largest in the world, is built on a part of the collapsed Panji No.1 coal mine that flooded over a decade ago due to over-mining, a common occurence in deep-well mining in China's coal heartland. When finished, the solar farm will be made up of more than 166,000 solar panels which convert sunlight to energy, and the site could potentially produce enough energy to power a city in Anhui province, regarded as one of the country's coal centers. Local officials say they are planning more projects like it, marking a significant shift in an area where long-term intensive coal mining has led to large areas of subsidence and environmental degradation. However, the energy transition has its challenges, primarily competitive pressure from the deeply-established coal industry that has at times led to delays in connecting solar projects to the state grid. Chinaâs government says it will spend over US $360 billion on clean energy projects by 2020 to help shift the country away from a dependence on fossil fuels, and earlier this year, Beijing canceled plans to build more than 100 coal-fired plants in a bid to ease overcapacity and limit carbon emissions. Already, China is the leading producer of solar energy, but it also remains the planetâs top emitter of greenhouse gases and accounts for about half of the worldâs total coal consumption. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A unit of China Three Gorges is building a 1 billion yuan (US$151 million) floating solar power plant, the world’s biggest, in the nation’s eastern province of Anhui.

China Three Gorges New Energy started building the 150-megawatt project in July and part of the plant has connected to the grid, according to a December 10 statement. The project features panels fixed to floats on the surface of a lake that formed after a coal mine collapsed, according to the unit. The entire facility is expected to come online by May 2018.

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Floating solar is getting bigger in China, where ground-mounted projects aren’t used to full capacity because of grid congestion. About 5.6 per cent of solar power generation was idled in the first three quarters, according to data from the National Energy Administration.

Before construction of China Three Gorges’ plant, China’s biggest commissioned floating solar project was a 40-megawatt farm by Sungrow Power Supply Co. in the same province, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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