The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
World's Largest Solar Farm Will Generate Enough Electricity to Power 320,000 Households
China is helping Pakistan build the largest solar farm in the world. The Chinese company Xinjiang SunOasis took only three months to install a 100-Megawatt (MW), 400,000-panel pilot power project—marking the first solar power plant in Pakistan. The plant started selling electricity to the grid last month, according to China Dialogue.
The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park is a $130 million project on nearly 500 acres of land in the Cholistan desert in Punjab. And it's just the first part of a larger project, the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. When the entire project is complete in 2017, the site could have 5.2 million photovoltaic cells, "producing as much as 1,000 MW of electricity—equivalent to an average sized coal-fired power station—and enough to power about 320,000 households," says China Dialogue.
The area's 13 hours of daily sunlight and its flat expanse of desert make it ideal for a solar farm. "The solar park will also shrink Pakistan’s carbon footprint," Najam Ahmed Shah, the chief executive of the solar park, told China Dialogue, "displacing about 57,500 tonnes of coal burn and reducing emissions by 90,750 tonnes every year."
However, there have been criticisms of the project. This solar farm uses a significant amount of water. "An estimated one liter of water is used to clean each panel. Water consumed to clean the eventual 5.2 million panels built will be colossal for a country that is fast becoming water stressed," says China Dialogue. "Currently, 30 people take 10 to 15 days to clean the entire 400,000 cells." Additionally, the massive project has drastically increased activity in the area and required lots of new infrastructure, which will disturb a once-pristine desert environment, home to a rich diversity of wildlife.
Pakistan is far from the only country experiencing a huge growth in solar projects. The U.S. Navy signed on for the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a U.S. federal government agency. Hawaii is piloting a solar-powered hydrogen fuel cell generator for one of its ports. And California is in the process of building one of the world's largest solar farms.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.
Half the world is on lockdown. So, the constant hum of cars, trucks, trains and heavy machinery has stopped, drastically reducing the intensity of the vibrations rippling through the Earth's crust. Seismologists, who use highly sensitive equipment, have noticed a difference in the hum caused by human activity, according to Fast Company.