China Wants to Build Panda-Shaped Solar Grids All Over the World

China is known as the home of the endangered and adorable panda, and now there’s a new panda that could be spreading to the whole world. Only this one doesn’t eat bamboo — it eats sunlight. A company called Panda Green Energy has built a solar panel array that looks like a giant panda. It’s the cutest power plant you’ve ever seen, and the company wants to start building them in other parts of the world.

The grid is located in Datong, a city in the northern province of Shanxi. It covers about 248 acres (1 square kilometer), making it a respectably large solar power facility. There are plenty larger ones, including the Tengger Desert Solar plant, which has a size of 43 square kilometers. The largest one in the US is just 13 square kilometers in area. The power generation capacity of the panda array is 100MW, about what you’d expect from a solar power farm of this size. That’s enough juice to power more than 8,000 homes. The creators hope it will generate 3.2 billion kWh of power in the next 25 years. That’s the equivalent of burning more than one million tons of coal.

As for how it was made to look like a panda, that’s thanks to the clever use of two different solar panel technologies. The lighter panels are thin film photovoltaic (PV) cells, and the darker ones are monocrystalline silicon PV cells. The result is a happy panda sitting on a plateau.

pandas

The solar power farm was built with the help of the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), which has focused heavily on promoting renewable energy to China’s youth. The nation’s rapid industrialization in recent decades has led to severe environmental consequences. In fact, the UNDP and Panda Green Energy will run a summer camp in August for Chinese teenagers.

Panda Green Energy is currently working on building a second panda solar array at the same site, but it also wants to expand to other locations. Early plans are in place to deploy panda solar arrays in Fiji and the Philippines. It aims to build 100 such solar power facilities around the world in the next five years. Of course, not all areas are suitable for solar power because of climate and lack of infrastructure. Solar power doesn’t always get as much support as traditional forms of energy. But really, who can object to such a cute power plant?

Now read: How do solar cells work?

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