China’s Three Gorges connects part of 150 MW floating solar plant

The largest floating solar plant in the world has begun feeding power into the grid in China, confirmed the installation’s developer and owner, Three Gorges New Energy Co., on Monday.

Located in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, the 150 MW PV plant will be fully complete in May 2018 – at which point it can properly claim to be the world’s largest such installation.

Three Gorges New Energy, which is a unit of Chinese conglomerate Three Gorges Corp., has invested more than RMB 1 billion ($151 million) in the array, which floats atop a lake formed in Panji District, Huainan City, after a former mine below the surface collapsed.

The idle water was identified by Three Gorges in July as an ideal location to implement its floating PV technology, and the company is also exploring a complementary fishing model that will energize the location in the hope of stimulating both the local economy and supporting ecological efforts at the site.

The solar plant usurps the previous largest floating array in China, which is a 40 MW installation – also in Anhui province – built by Chinese inverter specialists Sungrow.

The trend for building on water in China is growing. Data from the National Energy Administration (NEA) shows that in the first three quarters of the year, 5.6% of ground mounted solar power installed was idled due to grid congestion.