China is known for their national treasure: the giant panda, which is why you can find pretty much everything designed to be like pandas, from hair clips to slippers. A Chinese energy company is also following suit as they plan to build 100 solar farms shaped like giant pandas along the route of the Belt and Road initiative. The Belt and Road initiative is a plan that emulates the ancient Silk Road by opening new trade corridors around the world by using roads, power lines, ports and energy pipelines.
Panda Green Energy Group has already completed and connected one solar farm with this theme. It’s a 50 megawatt plant that’s connected to the grid in the northern province of Shanxi. This is the first step as a public relations stunt which shows the sweet and cuddly side of China.
By making use of darker crystalline silicon and combining them with lighter colored thin film solar cells, the company was able to create solar plant that resembles a cartoon giant panda from the air.
“The plant required an investment of 350 million yuan ($52 million), and it would require investment of $3 billion for 100 such plants,” Panda Green Energy’s Chief Executive Li Yuan said in an interview with Reuters.
The Hong Kong-based company is currently coordinating with Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy to create more panda-shaped power stations.
According to the company, one 100 megawatt panda power plant is expected to generate 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of energy over the course of 25 years. It is capable of supplying power over 10,000 households annualy.
Currently, Panda Green Energy is constructing their second panda-shaped power plant in Shanxi, which accounts for one-fourth of China’s coal reserves. The company said that by using one panda solar power plant will save an equivalent total of 1.06 million tonnes of coal, and will cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 2.74 million tonnes in 25 years. They have been investing and running solar power plants in China’s major solar hubs like in Xinjiang and Qinghai province, also some solar projects in Britain. Shanxi has plans of installing 12 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2020 which is far greater than the 1.13 gigawatts installed in 2015.