Renewable energy just got a mascot. A massive solar farm in the shape of a panda was connected to China’s energy grid last week. Built by the company Panda Green Energy, the project has the capacity to power more than 8,000 homes with a total output of 50MW.
[Image Source: Panda Green]
Located in Datong, a city in the province of Shanxi, northern China, the adorable setup consists of two types of solar panels. White thin film photovoltaic (PV) cells make up the bulk of the animals and black monocrystalline silicon PV cells give detail to their eyes, arms, and ears.
Another Panda Solar Station is being built at the site, once finished, the duo will have an output of 100MW, and output 3.2 billion kWh of solar energy in 25 years.
Project funded by the UN to educate new generations
The site is partly funded by the UN Development Program (UNDP) as part of a larger program to promote clean energy to China’s younger generations. The Panda Solar Stations will have a big role in educating children on how solar energy works. The site will also be the destination of a summer camp for teenagers run by the UNDP and Panda Green Energy. Teenagers from 13-17 will descend on the site in August to see the Panda Solar Station in action and learn about the future of sustainable energy management.
Panda Green Energy's CEO, Li Yuan, explained, "Designing the plant in the shape of a panda could inspire young people and get them interested in the applications of solar power.”
[Image Source: UNDP]
But the company doesn’t just want to stop at pandas. In plans to expand their company into other parts of Asia, a spokesperson for the company suggested they could build solar farms in other shapes inspired by local flora and fauna such as koalas or rhinoceros.
100 Pandas to be built in next 5 years
The Panda Solar Stations will still be around though, the company plans to build over 100 new arrays in the shape of the iconic animal within the next five years. The Panda Solar Stations won’t just provide power, Li suggests they have other uses too, “I believe that the panda solar power plants will become a tourist hotspot, and in future, we'll export these panda power plants to other parts of the world.”
China is pushing solar power across the country. They recently powered an entire region for 7 days solely on renewable energy. China is well on the way to meet some of their renewable energy goals they set as part of the Paris Agreement. They agreed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent which is an achievable target at the moment. International observers expect China to do all it can to reach all the goals of the agreement to boost its international standing, particularly in the wake of Trump pulling out. Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, made the comment just before Trump's announcement, “China will stay committed to upholding and promoting the global governance on climate change, and take an active part in the multilateral process on climate change.”