Solar energy is the next frontier for both companies and consumers. Tackling this space will not be all that easy, though. Running a major solar farm is still quite costly and requires a lot of space in which to place solar panels. The Chinese city of Huainan is best known for its coal reserves, but it is also now the place where the world’s largest floating solar farm is found, sitting atop a coal mine.

A Floating Solar Farm is Quite Mesmerizing

Most people think of solar farms as roofs covered with solar panels, or vast areas in the desert where panels are located. That is how most farms are built, but the Chinese have a habit of doing things differently.  In the city of Huainan is the world’s largest floating solar farm, which rests atop one of the old coal mines in the region. Since coal production is still vital to the country, this augmentation was well-received and perceived as less of a threat than it otherwise would have been.

In 2008, nearly 20% of all coal production in China came from Huainan. That is a significant amount, yet it appears the region is slowly moving to more renewable energy sources. With the world’s largest floating solar farm resting atop one of those coal mines, generating electricity through different means will become even more important in the future.

This solar farm is currently generating electricity. With a 40-megawatt power plant running 120,000 solar panels, this facility will yield some interesting statistics in the near future. The US$45 million investment already has the potential to power around 15,000 homes for a full year. All things considered, this is by far one of the largest renewable energy operations  in the world today.

Floating solar farms are nothing new, though they seemed more of a niche project just a few years ago. In 2017, such projects can be found in many countries around the world. China has taken the concept considerably further than any other nation. This particular farm has over six times the output capacity of the second-largest floating solar farm, which is located in the United Kingdom.

Building a floating solar farm is the most expensive solar solution at present. It must be designed to withstand humidity as well as salt found in water. At the same time, a floating farm has certain advantages, including the fact that it is built on otherwise unused surfaces. Plus, it is far more efficient compared to other solutions, as the water on which it floats can be used to help cool the panels. There is no risk of losing water in the lake as these farms effectively mitigate evaporation. 

Taking a flooded coal mine and turning it into a viable floating solar farm is an amazing idea. The World Economic Forum certainly seems to think so too. Finding practical solutions for such a venture is not easy, considering this particular farm is larger than 160 American football fields combined. It is not something most people would think to install without giving it a second thought.  This particular farm located in the province of Anhui is extremely interesting and worth following its development.