In 2017 construction work started on a 248-acre solar farm that, when viewed from above, looked like a pair of giant cartoon pandas. Now, the Chinese government are on a mission to build 99 more ‘panda power plants’ around the world – investing billions of pounds in the process.
The idea came from a Hong Kong teenager named Ada Li Yan-tung, who wanted to increase interest in renewable energy. Instead of simply lining solar panels up in neat rows, she suggested arranging them more creatively to form artwork that could be seen from the sky. An artist’s impression of her original panda concept is shown below:
A year later, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and development company Panda Green Energy Group picked up the idea and agreed to make it a reality. The first operating solar plant recently opened in the Shanxi province of China. The 50 megawatt plant resembles two baby pandas.
The developers plan to add a second phase to the project, adding two more pandas to complete a ‘panda family’. Once complete, the solar farm will have a capacity of 100 megawatts. According to the developers, it will generate 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours over 25 years, powering more than 10,000 households per year.
Panda Green Energy Group have an ambitious goal to build 99 more solar farms like this one, stretching across what China calls the “Belt and Road Initiative” – an infrastructure project spanning 60 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
China is the world’s largest producer and installer of photovoltaic solar panels, and has the highest installed solar capacity in the world at over 130 gigawatts.