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Published on June 9th, 2019 | by Cynthia Shahan

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Walt Disney World Solar Panels Now Span 270 Acres — 50-Megawatt Solar Park Powers ~2 Theme Parks

June 9th, 2019 by  


The last time I visited Walt Disney World was decades ago. I am more of a candidate for hiking the Appalachian trail than going to a theme park. However, one thing that would have me jump to go is another chance to view and photograph a large solar installation. I visited a few months back regarding a solar power project that was going online to power a good portion of Disney World’s theme parks.

Valerie Cops, with the Origis Energy team, emailed an invitation earlier this year to celebrate that “FL Solar 5,” powering much of Disney World in Central Florida, is now up and running.

The media enjoyed an up-close view of the expansive field of solar panels, not the biggest in the world but, at 50 megawatts (MW), one of the biggest in Florida. There are half a million solar panels there.

Visiting the renewable energy landscape growing around the globe is a always positive experience that lifts the spirit a bit — something we all need. We toured this new solar park as part of an Earth Day celebration from Walt Disney World Resort. Yes, it’s also good press for the famous resort and broader Disney company, but the important thing is that the solar panels are in the ground and producing clean electricity — a ton of it.

Enjoying one of the first group views of a large field array of panels spanning 270 acres, a 50-megawatt solar facility. Disney World Solar Panels, installed by Origis Energy USA. Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.

It’s a bit past Earth Day now, but for those who care, every day is important for the environment, the ecology, the world that supports our lives. Every day is another chance to lighten your footprint on planet Earth.

Next to the solar panels are Disney’s wetlands.

Walt Disney set that philosophy in motion, prompting environmental stewardship considerations for his theme parks early on. It follows that in many diverse ways Disney World is working to have a lighter footprint.

This tour, provided by Origis Energy USA, seems like a good step forward, a very important one. It will be nice when the full goal of completely renewable energy powering Disney manifests, as is Disney’s goal.

Perhaps by that time Disney will also do away with all plastic use. The resort did provide stainless steel water containers, a good tool for those who prefer to lighten their plastic footprint.

Located adjacent to state road 429, the facility is expected to generate enough renewable energy to essentially operate two of Disney’s four Florida theme parks. It will join a growing trend to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by tens of thousands of tons per year.

Overall, The Walt Disney Company has a 2020 goal to reduce emissions by 50% compared to 2012. This solar park is one of the big final projects put into place to hit that goal.

Harnessing the sun thanks to Origis Energy USA and Disney World, enjoying the beautiful solar panels. This brilliant piece of work was created in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.

Disney World solar panels. Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.

The smaller middle solar cells in the installation control the tilting so that all of the panels can track the sun for the most exposure throughout the day. We could hear the panels turning at times as the tracking system moved. Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.

Enjoying one of the first group views of a large field array of panels spanning 270 acres, a 50-megawatt solar facility installed and operated for Disney World by Origis Energy USA. Photos by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.


Valerie Cops with Origis Energy and I stop for a photo while touring FL Solar 5 at Walt Disney World.

Disney is also showing a bit of interest in the bees, the pollinators that we gardeners, farmers, growers know to be our best friends. A reminder to anyone who is confused: if we have no bees, we have no food.

It is easy to prefer ladybugs to pesticides for keeping the invasive critters off our plants, as organic farmer/growers do. Too many toxins in modern-day pesticides will kill our lovely and precious pollinators, the bees. (And us as well.) Worth repeating: no bees, no food.

Disney’s environmental and horticultural experts showed us their efforts in this regard as well, making two-thirds of the solar facility pollinator friendly. The intent is to attract and nurture the pollinators, the butterflies and bees, and also other endangered or at-risk insects.

They are monitoring their experimental test garden as well as the solar panels. The organic garden, of course, is an obvious success. The effort to safeguard endangered pollinators aligns with the Disney Conservation Fund’s ongoing focus on saving wildlife, including butterflies.

The solar facility in the Orlando region is Disney’s largest solar facility to date amongst its global theme park operations. The flowers and bees surely appreciate it as well.

Screenshot from Disney Parks video.

Habitat for native wildlife, pollinator friendly. Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica.

Related Story: “The Green New Deal In Real Life” — Nonprofits WE ACT For Environmental Justice & Solar One Create Jobs With Those Reflective Beauties (Solar Panels) 
 
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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)



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