During the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic games China earned itself a negative image around the world for overwhelming smog. Because of rapid urbanization, the largest population in the world, and a rapidly developing national infrastructure, many of the country’s biggest cities were filled with choking clouds of smog.
But a stunning new birds-eye-view of a truly epic solar farm in the Gobi Desert could be changing that. China began construction on the solar power station in August of 2009, and new satellite images from the NASA Earth Observatory show off the massive expansion. The collection of solar farms is in northwestern China, in the Gansu Province, and in three years it has more than tripled in size. Fields of solar panels now stretch out for miles on end into the desert landscape.
In just the first three months of 2015, China has already installed 5 gigawatts of new solar capacity. For comparison, the United States only installed 6.2 gigawatts of new solar power in all of 2014. The Gansu Province solar panel farm installed 5.2 gigawatts of power in the same time period, and nationwide the country added 10 gigawatts, bringing the total capacity to 28.05.
Although the United States may lag behind China in sheer volume of new solar capacity, solar power did account for more than 50% of all new power generation. Furthermore, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that at least one million U.S. homes will feature residential solar power systems by 2020.
The Chinese government has more authority to encourage solar panel installation, whereas many U.S. states have struggled to provide solar rebates to consumers. Experts say lack of solar incentives are a key obstacle to the technology’s further expansion at cashnow.uk.
While the United States plays catch up, countries like Japan are unveiling advancements in the solar field, such as a recently expanded floating solar panel installation. The floating panels produce more power because of the water’s cooling effect.
Check out the Chinese solar farm below, and see a before and after view at NASA: