China is known for its environmental struggles — it consumes almost half of the world’s coal, and its smog may be as dangerous as cigarette smoke, according to research.
On a sunnier note, China is also known for its pandas, which are cuddly and account for about 90 percent of the cute-animals-rolling-down-a-hill videos, according to me. So it only makes sense that China should find a way to combine two things they are known for.
Rather than lay out solar panels in some boring square, Panda Green Energy Group laid out a new 248-acre solar farm in the shape of an adorable panda.
How It’s Made
The black parts of the panda are composed of monocrystalline silicone and the gray-and-white parts are thin film solar cells. The plant is expected to be able to produce 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy in 25 years, reducing carbon emissions by 2.74 million tons.
(To give you a sense of the scale of this reduction, a typical car emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. So this solar plant will cut carbon emissions equal to getting upwards of 680 millions cars off the road.)
The project was a collaboration between Panda Green Energy and the United Nations Development Program to help raise awareness among young people about environmental issues. The site will also host energy summer camps and open innovation design contests.
And Panda Green Energy Group isn’t done yet. They plan on building more panda power plants in the next five years, with the solar farms eventually covering 1,500 acres.
The image directly above and that at the top of the page are artist renderings of the farms. But thanks to some digging from Snopes, the UNDP in China shared a real-life photograph of the celebrated panda farm.
This shot may not be quite as vibrant as the artist rendering, however it does still look distinctly like a panda.
At Home In Datong
The panda solar farm is located in Datong, which is about a 4- or 5-hour drive west of Beijing. Datong is home to the Yungtang Grottoes, ancient Buddhist caves filled with religious sculptures that are a huge draw for tourists from around the world.
The caves were built in the 5th or 6th century and comprise 53 large caves and 51,000 Buddha statues.
This Adorable Solar Farm Thing Is Kind Of A Trend
While this may be the cutest version yet, innovative solar farm designs have been done before. Disney has one in the shape of its Mickey Mouse logo while another in Nevada has a cool whirlpool look, even if it apparently used to barbecue birds.
And if the attention the panda is getting is any indication, future solar farms looking to get some press would be wise to follow suit.
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Which leaves us only one question: What should the world’s next big solar farm be shaped like? Well, for what it’s worth, I personally think they should figure out if red solar panels are available.
If you don’t know what I mean, you clearly haven’t seen this video of a red panda squaring off with a rock:
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