World's Largest Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant

World's Largest Floating Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant

The subsided mining area in Liulong Community, Tianji Township, Panji District, Huainan, Anhui had been occupied by water and consequently turned into a large area of water, covering more than 6000 mu. And the world's largest floating solar photovoltaic power station was built here, which received lots of attention in the world.

Guided by the staff, Wu Lan, a China News Service (CNS) reporter, took a visit to the station.

It's a gorgeous autumn as green water ripples, sun shines, and the sky is blue and clear. Both members of staff and the reporter reached the station by boat. There used to be farmlands and villages, but due to mine subsidence there now is a
large area of water. And it's able to see at a distance the roofs of the houses that had subsided.

The boat moved through many floating solar photovoltaic panels. According to Xiao Fuqin, vice general manager and chief engineer of Huainan Sunshine Floating Technology Co.,Ltd, the measured water depth was about 6 to 10 meters. The plant was enclosed with red lines, and there were family farms on the periphery of the plant.

It's reported that the solar photovoltaic project which complemented the fishing industry had an electricity generation capacity of 40MW, and got a total investment of 400 million yuan. Of 16 power generation modules, there was a test base for the R&D of floating solar photovoltaics.

"The entire project is built on water, with all the solar photovoltaic panels installed on floating bodies. Each module consists of over 10,000 panels, having a capacity of 3 MW. Altogether there are more than 160,000 panels in the station. " Mr.
Xiao explained, "For the floating photovoltaic power station, electricity price increases by 0.3 yuan to 0.5 yuan per kilowatt hour, and the power generation capacity 5%–10%. Despite the fact that its total revenue closes to that of a ground photovoltaic power station, this photovoltaic project is of great significance for it changes the way foreigners get to know China's energy exploitation and utilization."

Take the station as an example, a 40 MW of annual electricity generation capacity approximately equals to 48,000 kilowatt-hour, while a traditional thermal power station consumes 300 gram of coal for electricity per kWh. In this way, the station can save more than 10,000 tons of coal per year.

Furthermore, building photovotaic power stations on water has many merits such as amazing speed of construction, less interference and incomparable cleanliness. Plus, as long as the electricity generator performs well, the lower the water temperature is, the more electricity is generated. That helps to increase the overall electricity by 5%–10%.

The reporter saw a dozen white "houses" built among those solar panels and asked what they were. Mr. Xiao replied, "They are inverter and booster machines, which serve as the 'transfer station' connecting the photovoltaic power plant to power grids. Photovoltaic power stations produce direct current (DC) while power grids only deliver alternating current (AC), and that means we need those machines to transfer." "Don't get too close." he warned and pointed a cable, "Now the surroundings are in a charged state. See, current voltage of this cable is 35,000 kilovolt (KV)."  

Looking across the water, the reporter did not catch sight of any staff member. Mr. Xiao explained that at present there were only 8 people in charge of the operation and maintenance of the entire station. They had employed monitoring devices to observe the voltage, current and other data of the photovoltaic panels, which if not available would simply mean something went wrong. He also expressed that in the near future they would use robots to clean trash from water and perform routine maintenance.

Will the blazing sun, heavy rainstorms and fierce gales exert negative influence on the project? The chief engineer said not. Factors like water flow, wave height and temperature had all been taken in comprehensive consideration at design time. For
instance, the maximum wave height the station could stand was 1 meter. As long as the height was under 1 meter, the station would function well.

Huainan is a traditional resource-based city, primarily depending on coal. In the past few decades, with the rapid development of energy, it has been confronted with land degradation, resource depletion, environmental destruction and other problems. For example, in Panji District, 84,000 mu of land had subsided due to coal mining in 182 villages, which became an obstacle to development.

Building photovaltaic power stations in subsided areas becomes the highlight of local development. In addition to this station which is in operation, Huainan has also introduced other solar photovaltaic projects like the Three Gorges New Energy Project with an electricity generation capacity of 40 MW, which is under construction. (Editor: Claire Jeawin)