China boasts world’s first panda-shaped power plant

A new 50 MW solar farm has been connected to the grid in northwestern China. The catch: shaped like a panda bear, it not only produces green energy but is also part of a UN effort to raise awareness about sustainable development among young Chinese.

China’s national animal has gone green. Figuratively that is. A new panda-shaped solar farm is now producing 50 megawatts (MW) of clean energy in Datong Shanxi in northwestern China.

The Datong Panda Power Plant has an aggregate installed capacity of 100 MW. Covering a total area of 248 acres, the black parts of the panda such as is ears and ears are comprised of monocrystalline silicone solar cells, while the grey and white belly and face are composed of thin film solar cells, according to the UN’s development agency (UNDP).

At full capacity, the Panda Power Plant can provide 3.2 billion kWh of green electricity in 25 years, equivalent to saving just over 1 million tonnes of coal or reducing 2.74 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, explained its owner, Panda Green Energy.

The innovative project is the first such installation that Panda Green Energy completed under its cooperation agreement with UNDP. It is part of a UN effort to raise awareness about sustainable development among young people in China.

The project also includes a youth activity centre to teach schoolchildren about the benefits of solar energy. UNDP and China Merchants New Energy – Panda Green Energy’s largest stakeholder – will also promote renewable energy through summer camps and design competitions.

Panda Green Energy plans to install more Panda Power Plants over the coming five years as part of its Panda 100 Program with UNDP, some of which could be built outside of China under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” initiative.

Last January, Panda Green Energy purchased 82.4 MW of operational solar capacity at six sites throughout the UK, reported PV Magazine. The company plans to invest in more overseas projects in collaboration with one of its stakeholders, the Japanese financial services firm Orix.


Image credit: UNDP

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