China has figured it out, people: make environmentalism cute, and no one can resist it...just look at those googly eyes!
There is a solar farm in Datong, Shanxi Province, that was built in the shape of a Panda bear, China's most recognizable and beloved animal. The first phase of the solar farm just went online, providing 50 megawatts of clean energy to the towns that surround it.
Panda Green Energy Group installed the first phase of the panda solar array with the backing of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which has been a driving force behind China's sharp turn towards a robust clean energy program.
The black parts of the Panda-shaped solar array (the ears and arms) are made up of powerful monocrystalline silicone solar cells, while the grey and white belly and face are composed of the more run-of-the-mill thin film solar cells.
When completed, the entire solar array will produce 100 megawatts of power, which is the equivalent to 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of green power over the next 25 years, saving an estimated 1 million tons of coal and reducing total carbon emissions by nearly 3 million tons.
Check out an artist's rendering of what the final solar array will look like once completed. 2 whole Pandas!
The Panda design for the array wasn't just a whimsical decision for the sake of cuteness (although that'd be perfectly valid). The UNDP and Panda Green Energy hope to capture the hearts and minds of China's youth, aiming to inspire a new generation of creative clean energy pioneers.
While critics might consider the Panda solar array "juvenile" or a mere publicity stunt for China to boast about their newfound global leadership on the environment, this is a refreshingly outside-the-box approach towards furthering the fight against climate change.
Let's hope America follows suit in short order. Perhaps a solar array in the shape of a bald eagle?