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EMAILED ON December 13, 2017 BY Zachary Crockett

Old coal mines are being turned into solar farms around the world

As much as certain politicians and industry czars would beg to differ, coal is dying — and in a classic changing of the guard, a new, much more eco-friendly energy source is taking over: solar.

And we mean “taking over” in the literal sense: this past weekend, a massive, floating solar project built on top of an old coal mine started operation in Huainan, China.

It’s one of a number of similar projects worldwide

Built atop a collapsed mine that once produced ~20% of the country’s coal, China’s new 150-megawatt, $150m solar plant will generate enough energy to power 94k homes. 

It is the second such solar plant in that city, and one of a smattering of projects in the works globally: engineers are currently building or planning solar plants — all built on non-active coal mines — in Germany, the UK, and America’s Appalachian Mountains.

Why coal mines?

Coal has seen its day: 2016 was the first year on record that the black nuggets weren’t the #1 energy source in the US, and a number of the world’s biggest operators have closed up shop in recent years.

At the same time, Solar saw a 50% worldwide increase last year and is experiencing a growth spurt rivaled only by a teenage Robert Wadlow

Beyond this, when coal mines collapse, they often leave behind huge lakes of high-sulfate water that are pretty much good for nothing — except for floating solar panels.

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