World

Floating solar farm reflects China's clean energy ambitions

BEIJING: As the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate pact, China's clean energy ambitions were being reflected in the launch of the world's largest floating solar farm.

The 40-megawatt power plant has 160,000 panels resting on a lake that emerged after the collapse of a coal mine in central Anhui province.

It is part of Beijing's effort to wean itself off a fossil fuel dependency that has made it the world's top carbon emitter, with two-thirds of its electricity still fuelled by coal.

The solar facility went online around the time of US President Donald Trump's much-criticised June 2 decision to withdraw from the international accord aimed at saving the planet from climate change catastrophe.

His move shifted the spotlight onto China and whether it will take on the leadership mantle in the global warming fight.

Days after his announcement - and by coincidence - Beijing hosted an international conference on clean energy.

It was an opportunity for China, which already produces two-thirds of the world's solar panels, to boast of its commitment to accelerating investment and reforms for greater use of renewable energies.

"The US' withdrawal from the Paris agreement offers China an unprecedented opportunity to take the lead in climate change," energy expert Frank Yu of Wood Mackenzie consultancy told AFP.

LARGEST INVESTOR

China has been the world's largest investor in clean energy since 2012, spending US$88 billion (S$122 billion) on wind and solar power last year, according to Bloomberg News.

Its solar capacity more than doubled in 2016.

The official goal is for 20 per cent of Chinese power consumption to come from low-emission energy, including nuclear, by 2030, compared to 11 per cent currently.

With the US out of the Paris pact, China has signalled its readiness to deal with US local governments to advance its climate agenda.- AFP

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