Earth Observation

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

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

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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