Chinas latest energy megaproject shows that coal really is on the way out

China has some of the worst air pollution. In several cities, thick layers of smog result in thousands of deaths every year. According to a study, the top contributor of air pollution deaths in China is the burning of coal. Pollution from coal caused 366,000 premature deaths in 2013.
To improve the country’s air quality, the Chinese government vows to spend at least $360 billion on clean energy projects and create 13 million new renewable energy jobs by 2020. China is already one of the world’s biggest investor in alternative energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower.
China’s latest energy megaproject, a giant floating solar farm on top of a former coal mine in Anhui, may get the country closer to that goal. 
In 2017, workers turned on the 166,000-panel array, which can generate 150 megawatts of power, enough to accommodate 15,000 homes, according to the South China Morning Post. It’s currently the world’s largest floating solar project and will operate for up to 25 years.
Local energy company Sungrow Power Supply developed the farm on a lake that was once the site of extensive coal mining. After an explosion caused the mine to collapse, a lake formed and flooded it.  As The Guardian notes, building solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs can protect agricultural land and wildlife on the ground. The water also cools the solar panels, helping them work more efficiently.