So Sang, an electrician for Sungrow Power Supply Company, now helps maintain the world’s largest floating solar farm on a lake formed on top of a collapsed and flooded coal mine just northwest of Anhui province’s Huainan city. A tapestry of 166,000 glistening panels bob and bask below an ochre sun, producing almost enough clean energy to power a large town, as fish break through the inky water all around.
China has some of the world’s worst air pollution, which scientists say may contribute to a third of deaths, and regularly grounds flights and keeps children entombed in their homes and classrooms. Coal burnt for power and steel smelting is the principle cause, as soot-stained miners burrow China into what’s the world’s second largest economy today. But the nation, like Sang, is changing tact and embracing sustainability—no longer beholden to the singular tenet of growth at any cost.
China is now the world’s largest renewable energy investor. The government promises to spend $360 billion on clean energy projects by 2020, creating 13 million new jobs in the process. And as the Huainan project demonstrates, the Asian superpower is pushing the boundaries of green tech, whether wind, solar or hydro-power.