For years, the land near Huainan, China, was mined for coal, generating electricity and air pollution. But today, the mining lands are home to a new energy-producing operation: The world’s largest floating solar farm. Abandoned by locals and flooded by rain storms, the former mining area is now covered with 13 to 30 feet of water, making it the perfect spot to connect a massive solar farm to the energy grid.
The design of the 40-megawatt solar farm was specially adapted for its floating incarnation by power inverter-supplier Sungrow. Its modular layout also enabled it to be affordably shipped to the site in 20-foot sections. It’s the largest solar farm of its kind on the planet. For comparison, Denmark’s behemoth-sized wind turbine is capable of producing just 9 megawatts, while the Chinese floating solar facility can produce 40.
Singapore has also begun experimenting with large floating solar farms. Aquatic sites confer a number of benefits—evaporating water naturally cools the panels and keeps them functioning optimally, while the shade from the panels themselves helps to reduce evaporative losses of water. Additionally, solar farms do not take up land that could be used for other purposes.