From the inventive to the asinine, Chinese innovation has been on full display this year. Beyond the headlines dominated by its domestic tech giants, more impactful ideas are working to ensure a sustainable future.
Here are this year’s top 10 Chinese eco-innovations.
#10 – The Straddling Bus
Heralded as a way to curb nightmarish congestion in cities like Beijing, this bus would literally fly over traffic. Unfortunately, plans were scrapped earlier this year.
#9 – Shanghai’s Farming District
A 250-acre farming district has been approved for construction in Shanghai. The district will provide “…717,000-square feet of housing, 138,000-square-feet of commercial space, 753,000-square-feet of vertical farms, and 856,000-square-feet of public space.”
#8 – Xiongan Green City
Xiongan, a new green city envisioned to ease the overpopulation of the capital, received its first round of funding on the order of $19 billion. Located 2 hours south of Beijing, or a 30-minute bullet train ride, the city will eventually accommodate 2.5 million people.
#7 – The World’s Most Sustainable Skyscraper
The Shanghai Tower, the world’s second tallest building, is also the most sustainable. Awarded the highest green ratings, the newly opened tower is LEED-platinum certified, has 200 wind turbines, and has over 40 energy-saving measures in place.
#6 – A Smart City Explosion
China aims to have 500 “smart cities” by the end of the year. One example of this already in action is Yinchuan, dubbed China’s smartest city.
#5 – Trams of the Future
The streets of Zhuzhou now have a fully autonomous, electric tram. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) can carry up to 100 passengers per carriage without the need for tracks or a driver.
#4 – The Fuxing Bullet Train
Already home to 60% of the world’s expansive high-speed rail network, China is upgrading its infrastructure with the new Fuxing bullet train. Developed entirely using Chinese technology and manufacturing, the Fuxing can reach speeds of 400 km/h. In addition, the train will have over 2,500 monitoring points to gauge safety and comfort for passengers.
#3 – The World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm
A man-made lake in eastern Anhui Province is now home to the world’s largest floating solar project. At a capacity of 40 megawatts, the plant provides energy for up to 15,000 area homes. To add a touch of irony, the lake was originally a coal-mining site.
#2 – Conversion of Coal to Ethanol
Chinese scientists have successfully converted coal to ethanol. A world first, ethanol can be used as a clean energy source. China aims to establish 1 million ton conversion capability by 2020.
#1 – The Smog-Free Project
A multi-phase endeavor by Dutch innovator Daan Roosegaarde, the Smog-Free Project has partnered with other Chinese designers, individuals, and the private sector to create, among other things, the Smog-Free Tower and pollution-filtering bicycles.