China Merchants New Energy Group is one of the largest clean energy companies in China. It is deep into a solar power project that will eventually cover more than 1,500 acres with solar panels. The first phase of construction was completed on June 30 — a 248 acre solar farm that looks like a a giant panda from the air. When complete, several panda-shaped areas will populate the Chinese countryside.
The first phase is a 50 megawatt solar installation that will produce 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy over the next 25 years, according to the company. Generating that much electricity from sunshine will mean one million tons of coal won’t be burned, reducing carbon emissions by 2.74 million tons. Construction on a second panda-shaped solar farm is scheduled to begin later this year.
What difference does it make what the new solar power plant looks like from the air? Symbolism is very important to Chinese culture. The project is part of a larger effort to raise awareness among young people in China about clean energy. China Merchants New Energy Group worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to make the Panda Power Plant a reality. It hopes to work with the Group to create more panda power facilities across the landscape in the coming years.
China is racing ahead with its plans to convert its electrical energy system to renewables as quickly as possible — putting the US to shame while doing so. While US senators throw snowballs at each other to “prove” that climate change is a myth spread by the Chinese to steal jobs from Americans, China is talking the talk and walking the walk when it comes to clean energy.
Recently, the largest floating solar farm in the world came online near the city of Huainan in the Anhui province. The 40 megawatt facility not only produces electricity with no emissions, it takes advantage of the surface area of a large lake in a place where space for a solar farm is limited by the proximity of a large urban community. China is also forecast to install 403 gigawatts of wind power over the next decade. While the US is dithering, China is busy doing.
Image by UNDP