The time has come when more and more countries are dropping the use of coal for energy generation. But that doesn’t has to mean the end of the coal mines, many countries are reincarnating coal mines as solar farms.
This weekend, in the eastern Chinese city of Huainan, the world’s biggest floating solar farm became operational. The mine accounted for nearly 20 percent of country’s coal reserves (as estimated in 2008). The mine was collapsed and floating solar panels are installed on the lake, thus, formed. China Three Gorges Corporation began building the project in July; it is a state-owned company.
The company had spent $150 million on the project until now, and it expects the project will be fully functional in May 2018. At optimum functionality it can power around 94,000 houses. This is a new record in its class and it has taken the crown from another floating solar farm in the same city that became the largest such farm in August. The latter mentioned farm is also a former coal mine and has the ability to power 15,000 homes.
Third rank holder in terms of installed photovoltaic capacity –Germany is currently working on transforming and old coal mine into a renewable energy plant. The mine has a history of more than 50 years. The plant is expected to power 40,000 homes by making use of solar panels and wind turbines. The coal mine in the north-west portion of the country will be closed next year.
Just behind Germany is US in the ranking. In US, Berkeley Energy group is thinking about converting a strip mine in the Appalachians into a solar power plant. The plant is expected to generate about 50MW to 100MW of power in 2018.
In December 2016, Harworth Group, a property and regeneration company in the UK, told that it wanted to transform country’s last deep coal mine into a 5-MW solar farm. The mine was closed in 2015.
There are many advantages of building solar power plants on the top of dysfunctional coal mines. The land is hard to use for productive use and a solar power plant utilizes that land. The lakes that form in the old coal mine pits have high sulfur concentration that makes them unsuitable for farming. Making a floating solar power plant over it is a win-win situation as the cooling effect caused by water helps maintain the efficiency of solar modules. Additionally, the solar panels also reduce the water evaporation which helps in maintaining the lake for full for a longer duration.