Floating solar farm reflects China's clean energy ambitions

June 11, 2017 by Julien Girault
Just as Donald Trump was pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord on climate change, China was opening the world's biggest floating solar farm

As the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate pact, China's clean energy ambitions were being reflected in the launch of the world's largest floating solar farm.

The 40-megawatt power plant has 160,000 panels resting on a lake that emerged after the collapse of a coal mine in central Anhui province.

It is part of Beijing's effort to wean itself off a fossil fuel dependency that has made it the world's top carbon emitter, with two-thirds of its electricity still fuelled by coal.

The solar facility went online around the time of President Donald Trump's much-criticised June 2 decision to withdraw from the international accord aimed at saving the planet from climate change catastrophe.

His move shifted the spotlight onto China and whether it will take on the leadership mantle in the fight against global warming.

Days after his announcement—and by coincidence—Beijing hosted an international conference on .

It was an opportunity for China, which already produces two-thirds of the world's solar panels, to boast of its commitment to accelerating investment and reforms for greater use of renewable energies.

"The US's withdrawal from the Paris agreement offers China an unprecedented opportunity to take the lead in climate change," energy expert Frank Yu of Wood Mackenzie consultancy told AFP.

The 40-megawatt power plant has 160,000 panels resting on a lake that emerged after the collapse of a coal mine in central Anhui province

China dominating

The Beijing forum put a spotlight on efforts by Chinese authorities and companies to develop renewable energy.

"Beijing may feel like it's dominating the game", especially because "China is already moving rapidly—with or without the US—in terms of investments" and innovation, Alex Perera, director of the WRI Energy Program, told AFP.

It has been the world's largest investor in clean energy since 2012, spending $88 billion on wind and solar power last year, according to Bloomberg News.

China's solar capacity more than doubled in 2016. The official goal is for 20 percent of Chinese power consumption to come from low-emission energy, including nuclear, by 2030, compared to 11 percent currently.

"We must take these promises seriously," said Helen Clarkson, president of the Climate Group.

Growing public unhappiness with the choking pollution that regularly blankets parts of China is helping to drive the shift from fossil fuels to renewables

Beijing hopes to combat endemic air pollution, but is also motivated by financial interests, as the country "is already reaping the economic benefits" of clean energy, Clarkson said.

'Wake people up'

With the US administration out of the Paris pact, China has signalled its readiness to deal with US local governments to advance its climate agenda.

California Governor Jerry Brown used the Beijing conference to seek partnerships with China on climate change, and was given the red-carpet treatment by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Brown, who has criticised Trump's June 2 decision, signed a memorandum of understanding with Xi as well as an agreement with Sichuan province.

"I'm trying to wake people up to deal with ," Brown told AFP in Beijing.

China rolled out the red carpet for California Governor Jerry Brown when he visited to take part in an energy policy conference in Beijing, even granting him a meeting with President Xi Jinping

"China is an ally in that and it has tremendous resources and I want to work with those resources in a way that will accelerate our climate action," he said.

Xie Zhenhua, China's top negotiator, made it clear at the clean energy forum: "We will not only continue to strengthen cooperation with California, but also strengthen the concrete cooperation with other US states, cities, enterprises and scientific research institutions in fields including clean energy."

US energy secretary Rick Perry was also at the forum but failed to get the same reception as Brown, meeting China's seventh-ranked official instead of Xi.

Perry insisted Washington was not stepping back from its clean commitment.

"It's good for China to step in and take on the issue and to attempt to be the leader in the world for emissions reduction," he said, adding: "The fact of the matter is the US is number one still."

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36 comments

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gkam
2.8 / 5 (13) Jun 11, 2017
Rumpy is abdicating our role as world leader.
Mark Thomas
4.5 / 5 (16) Jun 11, 2017
"President Donald Trump's much-criticised June 2 decision"

A decision that was completely WRONG on scientific and moral grounds. The decision was even wrong on economic grounds, unless you are an oil company or recipient of their money. Exxon cynically publishes statements supporting the Paris Accord while spending millions annually on proxy groups and corrupt Republican politicians to undermine it.

http://corporate....to-force

http://www.huffin...898d6e35

http://www.corpwa...id=14246
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (9) Jun 11, 2017
On the other hand, the Chinese are most likely just playing lip service here, and building solar farms like they build empty cities to please the powerful owners of construction companies - China has huge troubles actually using most of the renewable power they have as it is.

The real aim of the recent collusion with California is to throw a stick in the gears and a political wedge between the states to further destabilize the US politically and economically. The west coast politicians think they have an ally in the Chinese, but all the machiavellians in the communist party want is access to an export market that is threatening to close up with Trump sooner than expected.

As the over-generous and pointless subsidies for renewable energy are on the way out, following the example of Germany, solar power has to start competing on its own merits which is murder on the sales of solar panels. California is one of the last bastions of naivety that still keeps funding them.
gkam
2 / 5 (8) Jun 11, 2017
If you want to find stooges look in the White House.

Do you drive a Diesel?
Da Schneib
4.6 / 5 (10) Jun 11, 2017
@Eikka, yeah, think of all those poor folks who are getting free electricity from their roofs! They're suffering terribly. It's really a shame.

Solar works, dude. Get over it.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Jun 11, 2017
They beat the heck out of those 20th Century systems!

Who gets subsidies?

http://midwestene...ncluded/
Dingbone
Jun 11, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Bart_A
1.4 / 5 (9) Jun 11, 2017
This article is so politically biased. As if by the US pulling out of the Paris pact means that US is no longer interested in renewables. Nothing could be further from the truth. We just want to deal with energy issues in a pragmatic way. Not by some lunatic Paris pact which by the way China basically does nothing, and where the US is expected to basically fund green initiatives to the rest of the world through the UN and which would cost us billions of dollars.

It is not about the climate. It is about power and money.

xponen
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 11, 2017
@Bart_A , I heard the Paris pact is simply a 'pledge' toward curbing greenhouse emission, it doesn't tell US government how to do it. In fact, why not US government simply 'cheat' it like by buying 'carbon credit' elsewhere?

Actually it is more profitable to go along with the Paris pact (don't 'cheat'), because US can profit from it by being a leader in green technology.

Trump doesn't get it because he's surrounded by people who doesn't get it either, don't listen to him. He said he defend coal miners who do hard labour going underground mining rocks, that isn't making sense, he is defending the stock share, I guess after its share rose from his 'defending' stun, people will sell them away and 'life' is saved.
unrealone1
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 11, 2017
What is the surface are needed to replace all fossil fuels in China?
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Jun 11, 2017
Not a good question. Nobody wants a power system running on one technology or one fuel.
ddaye
4.7 / 5 (12) Jun 11, 2017
We just want to deal with energy issues in a pragmatic way.


Paris is not about "energy issues" it's about climate. The market is already dealing with "energy issues" in a "pragmatic way." And that is slow enough to continue driving a global crisis that will be causing conflict and natural disasters. That's why we need climate response.
ddaye
4.6 / 5 (10) Jun 11, 2017
What is the surface are needed to replace all fossil fuels in China?

For comparison, surface area needed to power USA is 0.6% of our land area.
https://www.good....-america
Dingbone
Jun 12, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
3.2 / 5 (5) Jun 12, 2017
Pffftttt....Trump is putting solar panels on his wall....LMAO
rrrander
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2017
You left-wing suckers believe and parrot all this nonsense from the Chinese communists. They are increasing their coal use 19% this year. They care as much about pollution as dogs care about advanced geometry.
Bart_A
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 12, 2017
For comparison, surface area needed to power USA is 0.6% of our land area.
https://www.good....-america


That is a total liberal lie. You didn't even bother to read and consider what the article says. It is IMPOSSIBLE to power the USA with 0.6% of our land area. Not even 60%!

Go back to the article. And respond to its challenges first.

The "scientists" that clicked you a 5 for this are just as nuts.

Bart_A
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 12, 2017
@Bart_A Actually it is more profitable to go along with the Paris pact (don't 'cheat'), because US can profit from it by being a leader in green technology.


Another total liberal lie.
The Paris has nothing to do with being or not being a leader in green technology.
The US can still profit by being a leader even without Paris. What you say is nonsense.

In fact, since the US does not have to now fork over BILLIONS of dollars by joining Paris, we can put these same resources to even develop better technology! We will profit more for sure without joining.

xponen
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2017
@Bart_A , during the announcement speech Trump said it cost only $1Billion US, that is cheap, it is like %1 of US budget, unless Trump lied (yes he like to lie).
Eikka
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 12, 2017
@Eikka, yeah, think of all those poor folks who are getting free electricity from their roofs! They're suffering terribly. It's really a shame.

Solar works, dude. Get over it


Actually, it's the utility company that gives them free electricity by net metering. The solar panels themselves cost a lot of money to buy, install, and maintain, so you can't say the power is free.

Without the various subsidies they do not make any financial sense as the power you are actually able to use out of them does not cover the cost of the system.

That's the point. Solar power exists because it is paid with other people's money - it's wealth redistribution from everyone to the few - and it's exactly the poor who end up on the losing side because they are rarely able to have any panels on their roofs - you have to make a great deal of money per year to make use of the tax credits, which you need to make it profitable.

Solar works as long as someone else is paying.
xponen
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2017
@Eikka , It is government money, it is not your money anymore. You have to fix your mindset. You shouldn't think the money you paid to the government is still your money and expect it to return back to you in larger share, that is thinking of a Ponzi scheme.

The money you paid to the government belong to government. It is their right to redistribute it to whomever or whatever needs it, provided that the government is transparent & not corrupt.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2017
The subsidies for solar power, like with wind power, have been extended multiple times because every time the subsidies start to expire the industry goes into a tantrum - they don't want to let go of the government tit.

https://cleantech...-growth/

About 80% of the solar power market is expected to vanish overnight without the ITC, so they extended it. Now the new deadline is 2021 - and then it's the same story all over again.

The basic problem is that you can't make money out of solar power itself, because the more you build the less the supply meets the demand - everyone's solar panel is producing when the sun is up, everyone's got more than they need, so the free market price drops towards zero and nobody's getting their money back.

That's why solar PV only "works" when the prices are effectively pre-paid by the government.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2017
@Eikka , It is government money, it is not your money anymore.


How dumb do you need to be to make that argument? You're trying to excuse outright corruption.

The government's money is the people's money. You think it's fine that they are spending it in a reverse-robin-hood manner that benefits the rich at your expense?

It is their right to redistribute it to whomever or whatever needs it, provided that the government is transparent & not corrupt.


No. It is the duty of the government to represent the general will and interest of the people - not act as autocratic nannies. It is NOT in the best interest of the people anyhow that money and resources are wasted in this way, because the solar power companies are simply milking the government for money without a true intent to develop renewable energy in a sustainable manner - they will take whatever they can lobby.

xponen
5 / 5 (7) Jun 12, 2017
@Eikka ... in country like Germany, their grand idea was to create a free-market for energy. As with any free-market, it's up to industry to seize the opportunity to solve a problem for profit. The problem is excess energy at daytime, the solution is energy storage. In fact, Elon Musk sells a system to capitalize on this opportunity; a Li-ion storage system at grid level. Elon Musk once tweet he can provide one within 100 days if Australia wants them (since Australia is also contemplating on 100% renewable energy too).

You just have to wait.

All the complain is like people aren't seeing where this is headed, you think country like Germany is allowing a runaway explosion of solar panel without having a goal for it??
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (5) Jun 12, 2017
It is the duty of the government to represent the general will and interest of the people


Then the U.S. govt is failing in its duty to the American people to do something about global warming.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (4) Jun 12, 2017
Trump said it cost only $1Billion US, that is cheap, it is like %1 of US budget, unless Trump lied (yes he like to lie).


Actually 1% is more like $40 Billion. For reference, NASA's proposed 2018 budget of $19.1 billion is less than one half of one percent.
Joker23
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2017
It amazes me that supposedly intelligent scientific people are willing to sacrifice the wealth and sovereignty of our country to a bunch of bureaucrats ensconced in Brussels. These people who now are our financial enemies, who we defended and re-built after TWO World Wars, will dictate to us how to spend the Tax Money of the American People. There is NOTHING wrong with all of you proponents of this ''climate change'' farce to collect and donate YOUR wealth to these European clowns to affect the''climate change'' of .1 °F by the year 2020. When renewable energy becomes reliable and economic it won't be necessary to subsidize it by making me work well into my retirement to pay confiscatory taxes. If you support this protocol, feel free to send your wealth to them to be distributed to a bunch of third world dictators.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (8) Jun 13, 2017
These people who now are our financial enemies, who we defended and re-built after TWO World Wars, will dictate to us how to spend the Tax Money of the American People.

It's amazing how people who don't know diddly squat about something can go raging and raving

1) The Paris accord does not tell anyone how much to spend and in what way
2) There are no sanctions for not sticking to the Paris accord

It is an entirely voluntary pledge.
Note that it was agreed on by far, FAR more countries than just the European ones. All but Syria and Nigeria (and now the US). Syria is sorta understandable. being in the middle of a civil war they have other problems which seem more important. Nigeria didn't agree because for them the accord didn't go far enough(!).
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2017
it won't be necessary to subsidize it by making me work well into my retirement to pay confiscatory taxes.

Instead you are paying confiscatory taxes *now* (for the military that keeps the oil flowing) AND in the future (for cities that will need defense/relocation against climate change effects)?

Congratulations. You have just ranted and raved FOR paying a lot more taxes throughout your life. Must feel nice to be so smart.

What you don't get: The renewables faction wants you to pay LESS in the future - by making you less dependent on others for energy (at first less dependent as a nation from imports of fossil energy sources to finally a state where the tech is so cheap/ubiquitous that each person can create their own energy and needs to pay nothing for it).

If being rid of taxation is something you don't want to invest in now - fine. Pay more taxes. Don't come crying to us when you do.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 13, 2017
Then the U.S. govt is failing in its duty to the American people to do something about global warming
They are doing something. They're jumping up and down and stamping their feet. And passing laws of course.

Isn't that enough for you?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jun 13, 2017
Nigeria didn't agree because for them the accord didn't go far enough(!).

That should have read 'Nicaragua'...My bad.
(Nicaragua aiming for having 94% of its electricity from renewables this year)
ricardo2000
5 / 5 (3) Jun 13, 2017
It is ironic that solar power is being built on the grave of the coal industry.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 13, 2017
Ricardo, "appropriate" might be a better term for it.
unrealone1
not rated yet Jun 14, 2017
@ddaye Thanks for the link. 0.6 percent of USA to power the country.
But the life of the panels is only 20 years.
gculpex
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2017
@ddaye Thanks for the link. 0.6 percent of USA to power the country.
But the life of the panels is only 20 years.

About the same as your house singles but with payback.
Merrit
not rated yet Jun 15, 2017
The government should be taxing CO2 emissions rather than subsidizing renewable. Why they didn't take that approach beats me. This is basic economics.

Also, the issue isn't just CO2 emissions, it is the amount of CO2 in the air that is the problem. Lowering CO2 emissions help, but doesn't really solve anything. They should be focusing on tech to take CO2 from the atmosphere to be used in a beneficial way. CO2 emissions are not a problem if we can take the same amount or back out of the atmosphere. Ideally we would want to control our exact global CO2 levels as one step towards a completely artificial atmosphere.

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