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China Launches The Largest Floating Solar Farm In The World

China has finished the largest floating solar farm in the entire world in the past week. Sungrow Power Supply Company, along with the Chinese government, built 40 megawatts worth of photovoltaic platforms that are located next to the city of Huainan. The facility makes use of water territory that is useless and enhances a country known for its coal.

How is the creation of these farms accomplished? No, solar panels aren’t just thrown into the water. They’re mounted on floating boards and are connected to inverters and a combiner box. Both of the latter products are custom made to float on the water and provide all the benefits of their traditional units.

Water level is very low in the area with depth up to 10 meters, or nearly 33 feet. A unique aspect of the floating plant -- it’s above what used to be another area where Huainan mined coal. Due to rising water levels, the entire place was flooded and became uninhabitable.

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In a press release from the company, a local government official explained how the photovoltaic plant was efficient in this area: "The plant not only makes full use of this area, reducing the demand for lands, but also improves generation due to the cooling effects of the surface." The president of the company, Professor Renxian Cao, made a statement that they have always been “introducing cutting-edge technologies to products.”

There’s been many other PV plants that Sungrow has been associated with. According to their website, they have been the company behind a 20-megawatt plant in California, 11.5-megawatt plant at Newnham in the United Kingdom, and an 11-megawatt plant in India. 

Sungrow’s floating farm in China is the most unique project and is the biggest example they have on the site. It’s twice the size of another floating plant that’s in the region, which was installed back in 2016. They claim their commercial PV projects feature low investment and high yield. Their products have integrated features that requires less equipment to purchase.

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China has been one of the world’s biggest sources of coal mining. The city of Huainan is located in the Anhui province, which is home to the Huainan Coal Mining Group. The company was founded in 1981 and employs over 58,000 employees. However, the process of closing these  mines have begun as China continues to change their image.

Over 1,000 mines were set to close in 2016. While this has been better for the environment, it has brought some major difficulties to cities that thrived with these coal mines. Rob Schmitz of NPR reported on the eventual closure of the Longhua Harbin Coal Company and the struggles they’ll be facing. There’s been no reports of closures facing the mining group in Huainan.

However, it’s inevitable that the coal mining industry will continue to shrink. Bloomberg reported last spring that China’s solar prices could fall up to 38 percent in the next four years. The country is also home to an 850-megawatt solar farm in Qinghai which powers over 200,000 households in the area.

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