China's Floating Solar Power Plant
Just this month China flipped the switch on the world's largest floating solar power plant. This was occurring right about the time the U.S. was pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. This power plant will provide electricity to about 15,000 homes.
This floating solar power plant, located in the city of Huainan, was built in a lake that was created when a coal mine that was extensively mined collapsed. Heavy rains filled the hole with water creating a lake.
Floating solar power stations are not new having been first created about a decade ago, but they are becoming larger and more prevalent. This is an innovative approach by a country that has been trying to put the brakes on fossil fuel and coal consumption. They are filling a niche allowing new development of renewable power, where land is in short supply, but water is plentiful. With China's over-population problem land is at a premium.
China's Smog Problem
Major cities in China were densely smogged not that long ago and many are still dealing with smog as coal is still the major source of energy there. Although recently, China has been working to develop new forms of energy like wind, solar and hydropower to replace coal to fight pollution. The government is offering many incentives for businesses developing alternative energy especially in impoverished areas. Not only does this supply a clean supply of power, it also supplies much needed jobs in areas like Huainan.
Additional benefits of having a water-based solar farm is the effect on the water, keeping temperatures down which keeps algae growth down. There is less water evaporation, as well. The cooler water temperatures help cool down modules and cable increasing the effectiveness of the efficiency of the power generation.
Floating Solar Plants Around the World
This floating power station has 160,000 solar panels which dwarfs the next largest floating solar power station in Japan with 53,000 solar panels. There are floating solar stations popping up all over the world. Australia, India, U.K. and the U.S. have also ventured into the floating solar market. Australia's water-based solar plant is constructed so it will produce 57% more energy than a roof-top solar plant.
There is a floating solar project in the works for Holtsville a small town in Southern California. This town was deeply affected by the drought and it took considerable effort to convince the county that this was beneficial for water conservation. They are placing floating solar panels on city ponds which will power pumps and the water treatment center. This will save the city a $100,000 a year.
Sonoma clean power has utilized floating solar arrays to be built on 6 treated water ponds in Sonoma County. This is beneficial for several reasons. The hillside scenery is not marred with solar panels. They are spared the expense of leasing property for solar panel placement. Placement on the ponds keeps the panels hidden from view and protects the water in the ponds from evaporation and algae growth.