You Can’t See the Great Wall of China From Space, But You Can See Their Giant Solar Farm

Article Updated: 28 Feb , 2017
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While the Great Wall of China is not readily visible from space (we debunked that popular myth here) there are several other human-built structures that actually can be seen from space. And that list is growing, thanks to the large solar farms being built around the world.

The solar farm with the current distinction of being the largest in the world — as of February 2017 – is the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China. These new images from NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite show the farm’s blue solar panels prominently standing out on the brown landscape of the western province of Qinghai, China. Reportedly, the solar farm covers 27 square kilometers (10.42 square miles), and consists of nearly 4 million solar panels.

You can see in the image below from 2013 that the farm has been growing over the years. The project has cost the amount of 6 billion yuan ($889.5 million).

The orbital view from April 16, 2013
of the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China. Credit: NASA/Landsat 8.

China wants to shed its title of the biggest polluter in the world and is now investing in clean, renewable energy. It has a goal of producing 110 GW of solar power and 210 GW of wind power by the year 2020. That sounds like a lot, but in a country of 1.4 billion people that relies heavily on coal, it amounts to less than 1 percent of the country’s more than 1,500 gigawatts of total power generation capacity, says Inside Climate News.

According to NASA, China is now the world’s largest producer of solar power, however Germany, Japan, and the United States produce more solar power per person.

China has another solar farm in the works that will have a capacity of 2,000 MW when it is finished.

Here’s another wider-angle view from Landsat 8 of the Longyangxia Dam and lake near the solar farm.

The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park as seen from orbit on January 5, 2017. Credit: NASA/Landsat 8.

Source: Landsat

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6 Responses

  1. Aqua4U says:

    An amazing story and cool picture Nancy! We’ve got to hand it to the Chinese for doing things in a big way… I’m just hoping they have better luck with their giant solar farms than they did with the giant Three Gorges Dam! -aka- There have been problems with population displacement, animal migration disruption, sediment accumulation, the inability to flush contaminants, over 560 kinds of rare land plants have been flooded out, landscape and archeological sites flooded and lost… and then, if there ever was a big enough earthquake and that dam ever burst… Buh bye economic gains. ~@; P

  2. Ray Bingham says:

    The question when I was a kid was not could it be seen from space, but could it be seen from the moon. Somehow lately we have just minimized it as a view from space which is only a few dozen miles. The moon is a lot farther away. And of course the great wall will not be visible from there either.

  3. Manu says:

    “… 110 GW of solar power and 210 GW of wind power … it amounts to less than 1 percent of the country’s more than 1,500 gigawatts …”
    The math sounds wrong here! 😉

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