China sets up world’s largest solar farm, boosts bid to lead renewable energy charge

WATCH: World’s largest floating solar power farm is up and running

China is now home to the world’s largest floating solar power farm, a huge expanse of solar panels stretching across what was once a coal mining town in the central province of Anhui.

The farm connected to the grid last month, is thought to be the world’s largest in terms of capacity at 40 megawatts, providing enough electricity to power 15,000 homes.

READ MORE: As U.S. withdraws from Paris accord, China could emerge as leader in stemming climate change

It occupies more than 800,000 square meters in an area hit by flooding and subsidence due to coal mining, a problem many coal mining regions in China are plagued with. After the ground sank, residents moved away, an employee at Sungrow, the company behind the panels, told Reuters.

Proponents of water based solar panel farms say they have the advantage of being placed in areas that would not have been utilised for other purposes, as well as being less likely to overheat due to the cooling effect of the water.

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WATCH: China looking to take leading role on climate change as Paris accords come into effect

China looking to take leading role on climate change as Paris accords come into effect
China looking to take leading role on climate change as Paris accords come into effect

China – the world’s biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases – has been at the heart of global efforts to persuade the United States, the second largest emitter, to remain in the 2015 Paris agreement. The pact calls on countries to commit to helping keep global temperature rises at lower than 2 degrees Celsius.

The long-anticipated withdrawal announced by President Donald Trump on Thursday will boost China‘s influence in global climate politics and ease pressure to make more ambitious carbon dioxide cuts of its own, analysts said. It could also further strengthen China‘s position in potentially lucrative sectors like renewables, nuclear power and hybrid vehicles.

READ MORE: Donald Trump badly misunderstood MIT research to justify pulling out of Paris climate agreement, officials say

“Just a short few years ago, China was the climate bad boy,” said Li Shuo, senior climate change advisor with Greenpeace. “Geopolitical shifts often happen over a scale of decades, but I feel the world has changed over the past few hours.”

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