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World's Biggest Floating Solar Farm Goes Live on Top of a Former Coal Mine

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World's Biggest Floating Solar Farm Goes Live on Top of a Former Coal Mine
Sungrow Power Supply

Coal power is getting buried in China—both literally and figuratively.

Earlier this week, a new floating solar farm went live in the Chinese city of Huainan above a retired coal mine, China Daily reported.


The mine was flooded with groundwater after it went out of service, and, rather than simply losing an energy source, the city decided to get another form of power out of the space.

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The new solar farm generates 40 megawatts, which can power 15,000 homes for a year. That's more than six times the second biggest active floating farm, which has a capacity of 6.3MW.

The project is part of China's much broader strategy of investing in renewable energy. China has more solar capacity than any other country in the world and it intends to invest at least $361 billion in renewables by 2020.

After the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate agreement earlier in the year, China doubled down on its commitments and made joint statements with other countries to encourage stronger climate action.

Floating solar farms are not as common as other forms of solar energy, but they have numerous advantages, according to the World Economic Forum.

They don't take up space on land, their solar panels are more effective because water cools them down, and they can increase the amount of available drinking or irrigation water by limiting evaporation.

China still has a long way to go before it can be considered to have a sustainable economy.

China consumes nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. Even though the country is also the leader in "clean" coal plant construction, it's hard to underestimate its scale of emissions and the harms caused to the environment as a result.

But the aggressive push to develop renewable technology shows that the country sees fossil fuels as a losing investment.

When all coal mines are transformed into solar farms, then China can rightfully claim the title of the leader in clean energy.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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