The first floating photovoltaic (PV) power plant built by CECEP Solar Energy Co., Ltd. in Suzhou City, Anhui Province, based on water bodies of an abandoned coal mining subsidence area, has transformed the former mining area into an emerging energy base.
Suzhou’s history of coal mining can be traced back decades. Some mining subsidence areas were abandoned gradually, totaling nearly 67 million square meters so far, and due to a lack of management for a long period, recovery of local ecosystem was necessary. In June 2017, CECEP Solar Energy Co., Ltd. invested 500 million yuan to build a floating photovoltaic power generation project on 1.4 million square meters of water surface of the abandoned mining subsidence areas. The project features 13 islets of varying sizes equipped with a total of about 194,700 monocrystalline PERC modules and 520,000 floating tubes. The largest floating islet has a capacity of 8.536 MW. Four years have passed since it began operation, and the project has been maintaining safe operation despite strong winds and extreme weather. In 2020, it generated more than 84 million kWh of electricity, far exceeding the design value.
In addition to increasing power generation, the floating solar plant is advantageous by using “waste water” as a brand new carrier for power generation and maximizing the self-cleaning capability of floating solar. The floating technology can help reduce evaporation from the water surface, inhibit the growth of microorganisms in the water, and purify water quality. Furthermore, the project can also use water cooling to solve the cooling problem encountered by traditional PV power plants on land.
During its construction process, the project took advantage of local topographical and geomorphological characteristics to seek harmonious coexistence with the surrounding natural environment. It has effectively explored the environmental management of water bodies without changing the local topography and geomorphology or affecting the ecological environment of the water bodies, which is of great significance to promoting comprehensive management of the former mining subsidence areas and accelerating the transformation and upgrading of coal as a traditional energy source.
Statistics show that in 2019 the PV plant’s annual power generation was more than 10 percent higher than the design capacity, exceeding 80 million kWh, equivalent to a reduction in emissions of 19,000 tons of carbon dust, 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 27,000 tons of standard coal, 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 1,000 tons of nitrogen oxides. Throughout its 25-year design life cycle, the project is expected to reduce emissions of carbon dust by 440,000 tons, carbon dioxide by 1.62 million tons, standard coal by 650,000 tons, sulfur dioxide by 49,000 tons and nitrogen oxides by 24,000 tons.
Given the sound operation of the Suzhou project, the East China Branch of CECEP Solar Energy and Ciel & Terre (Shanghai) New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. on July 14 signed a strategic cooperation agreement on jointly promoting the “3060” target with science and technology, enhancing cooperation with the municipal government of Suzhou, and continuing to contribute to the transformation and development of the former mining subsidence areas in the city.