The panda bear has always had a special place in China’s history. The friendly-looking bear can be seen across the country’s culture as a symbol of good luck, friendship, and above all, peace. The People’s Republic even uses them to help strengthen its relations with other states by offering pandas as diplomatic gifts. The ‘panda diplomacy’ is used as a powerful tool for collaborating other countries, however, the old practice could invigorate another kind of relationship, a more natural one.
Unfortunately, the link between China with Mother Nature is weakening. To change this, the country, which is also the biggest producer of solar energy has recently built a solar farm shaped like a giant panda bear. The distinctive green construction commemorates the special link between the inhabitants with the cuddly animal, but it also represents a way to make young people aware of clean energy.
The representatives of the country’s largest clean energy company, China Merchants New Energy Group, are the ones who stand behind the remarkable solar farm, “The Panda Power Plant.” Made at the initiative of Panda Green Energy Group, and following an agreement signed with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the eco-friendly project was launched in early September 2016.
Placed in Datong Shanxi, the 248-acres power plant is officially connected to the grid as of June 28, and can produce up to 50 MW. The developers’ goal is to build an even larger structure with a double capacity, which will be able to produce 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy, enough to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.74 million tons in the next 25 years! When completed, the power plant will stretch over a land surface of 1,500 acres.
To achieve the lovely design of the eco-farm, scientists used monocrystalline silicon cells to outline the black parts of the giant panda and thin film solar cells for the white and green areas.
The nature-friendly initiative is part of the “Panda 100 Program,” through which the Hong Kong-based company is planning to build other similar-looking solar farms in and outside the Asian country over the next 5 years. Panda-shaped power plants could also help power Fiji in the future.
The uncommon solar farm has a charitable goal regarding sustainable development, namely to make Chinese youths understand the benefits of these panels, but also to teach them how clean energy can contribute towards diminishing climate change’s devastating effects.
UNDP and Panda Green Energy Group will promote the unique ecology lessons through summer camps, with this year’s journey taking place at the Panda Solar Farm, from 10th to 18th August. You can find more information here.
While the solar farm is a real structure, the image which accompanies the news does not reflect the actual farm, but is rather a concept made by an artist, notes Snopes.com. The quoted source mentions that a UNDP spokesperson confirmed this as being true. Moreover, the representative sent a real picture of the solar farm, which was shot with the help of a drone. Have a look at the current form of the giant construction yourselves:
United Nations Development Program
China Merchants New Energy Group
Imagery: Science Alert, Snopes.com