China’s latest energy megaproject shows that coal really is on the way out

China built a floating solar farm on a collapsed coal mine. The project signals that, as in other large countries, China is depending less on fossil fuels.

  • The Chinese province of Anhui built a massive floating solar farm on top of an abandoned coal mine. An even larger floating solar plant will come online by May 2018.
  • Due to rising concerns surrounding air pollution-related deaths, China is trying to invest more heavily in renewable energy projects.
  • The new solar farms are part of the global shift away from energy generated from fossil fuels.

China has some of the worst air pollution in the world. In several cities, thick layers of smog are common, resulting in thousands of deaths every year.

According to a 2016 study, the top contributor of air pollution-related deaths in China is the burning of coal. The team of Chinese and American researchers behind the study said that pollution from coal caused

signals the slow decline of fossil fuels like coal in China and other countries around the world.

In 2015, Sweden started to phase out its fossil fuel usage and bolster investment in solar, wind, smart grids, and cleaner transport. That same year, Nicaragua pledged to increase its share of renewable energy from 53% to 90% by 2020 as well. China is one of the biggest countries to make a significant move away from coal. Last year, the country cancelled 104 new coal plants that were in development across 13 provinces.

Although the US relies less on fossil fuels in 2018 than it did a decade ago, President Donald Trump has promised to boost the country's struggling coal industry. In mid-January, Trump announced that the US will administer a 30% tariff on imported solar panelsart of his "America First" platform, the tariff could hurt the solar industry in the US.

Correction, January 29 — An earlier version of this story said that Sungrow's floating solar farm completed in 2017 generates 150 megawatts of power. It produces 40 megawatts.

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