China just flipped the on switch for something incredible: the world’s largest floating solar power plant.
You’ve probably heard the news that good ol’ President Trump has decided that the Paris Agreement is a tremendously, terribly bad deal. If (when?) he pulls out of it (he hasn’t actually said he will yet), the United States will be alone with Syria and Nicaragua, neither of which is involved in the Paris Agreement. While Syria doesn’t think that climate change is a policy issue, Nicarugua says the Agreement doesn’t do enough. Right now, 195 of the U.N.’s 197 nations all agree on our changing climate, because, well… science. Hell, even North Korea signed the Paris Agreement.
A common refrain from Americans for fossil fuels goes something like this: “there’s no point in us doing anything until CHINA does something!” Well, China is. They, in fact, are probably the world leaders in renewable energy. They just finished construction on the world’s largest floating solar power plant and hooked it up to the grid. Although they’re probably doing it for economic reasons, the end result is a still a good thing. More money. Stronger economy. Cleaner planet. It’s a win-win.
Under Trump’s fossil fuel loving thumb, the U.S. is looking backward, envisioning a country choked in coal dust and coated in oil. China, however, has flatlined its coal use and is funneling cash into renewables, like wind and solar. The massive 40-megawatt solar power plant sits–and this is true–on a flooded coal-mining town. Because of the mining, the body of water that exists there now is toxic and useless.
Building a solar farm on water is a really good idea for a simple reason. The seawater acts as a coolant, so the farm uses way less energy. The one they just hooked up will power around 15,000 homes. China, while they are the world’s largest polluter, is at least looking forward and realizing that things are changing.
The renewable energy sector is one of the fastest growing in the world. According to Forbes, in 2016, solar employed more people in the U.S the oil, coal, and gas combined. America has the capability to be the ones that lead the world into the future–something that made it great to begin with–but under its new orange leadership, doesn’t have the inclination.