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Abandoned Coal Mines Are Being Reimagined As Solar Farms

By Tessa Love

From the dirtiest source of energy to the cleanest, abandoned coal mines around the world are getting a second life as sites for large-scale solar farms. 

The biggest one yet began operating this weekend—a 150-megawatt floating solar farm in the eastern Chinese city of Huainan. At one time, the mine accounted for nearly 20 percent of the country’s coal reserves; now the world’s biggest floating solar project is sitting atop the lake formed in the collapsed mine.

The project is expected to come into full use in May 2018, at which time it will be able to power around 94,000 homes. Though it eclipses all the other floating solar farms in the world, this one joins another recent project in the same city that, until now, was the largest of its kind in the world. Also atop a former coal mine, the latter project can supply electricity to 15,000 homes and came online in August.