[DIGEST: Business Insider, China Merchants New Energy, Forbes, PV magazine]
A giant, 248-acre sized panda is now providing power to a grid in northwest China. Yes, while Tokyo has its life-sized Gundam statues guarding Tokyo Bay, China now has a solar farm in the shape of China’s adorable national treasure, and it will be the first of many more.
The 50-megawatt solar power plant was built just outside the city of Datong in the Shanxi province and was completed in June. Its arrays were intentionally aligned to create the appearance of a giant panda as seen from above to raise awareness about sustainable development.
Known as the Panda Power Plant, the grey and black colors of the panda design were achieved by using two different types of solar cells. A second panda is already planned for later this year. Once completed, the two pandas will generate 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy over the next 25 years.
Built by China Merchants New Energy and Green Panda Energy groups, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Panda Power Plant is the first phase of a greater initiative to reduce carbon emissions throughout China. They hope also to create awareness and allocate educational resources to promote youth engagement and inspire innovation of further sustainable development.
Zhu Ming, the General Director of New Energy Department of China’s National Energy Administration, spoke further about the initiative at a completion ceremony held at the United Nations office in Beijing.
“Chinese government fully supports new energy and renewable energy development, and firmly implement green Low-carbon and sustainable development,” Ming said. “Taken as the China’s image and name card, Panda Power Plant is representing the belief of protecting the world's endangered animals, harmony, peace and smile, as well as the future development of new energy industry. All these ideas are synergized to boost the world's renewable energy industry and environmental protection. We appreciated Panda Green Energy and the UNDP’s work in promoting the renewable energy and new energy.”
There were many stuffed panda dolls on display at the ceremony.
The UNDP also released their own announcement regarding what they are calling a global program promoting the development and application of green energy:
“As the future of development, the youth have the opportunity to contribute to world-wide sustainable development. UNDP and Panda Green Energy Group will work together to promote and popularize the promotion of new energy through summer camps and open innovation design contests. The initiatives aims to engage the youth of China and assist in developing the future leaders in the green energy field.”
The summer camps will include youth activity centers to teach schoolchildren about the benefits of solar energy, as well as a youth exchange program.
Panda Green Energy intends to build more panda solar power plants across China in the years to come.
For more information:United Nations Development Program