It’s not often that energy design gets a little funky. The solar panda that China has recently developed caused a stir around the renewable energy world, not simply because of its size and energy output.
The development is actually a sign of the times. The site was constructed in record time – something that the Chinese appear to be particularly good at – and is a reminder that they are quickly becoming the powerhouse nation when it comes to renewable infrastructure and development
Seen from the air, you might be forgiven for thinking that China is going to start giving all their plants an artistic slant. The installation was carried out by a company called Panda Green Energy and the design was actually suggested by their largest shareholder China Merchants New Energy. It’s part solar plant and part branding icon and PR initiative. It all makes sense.
The plant in Datong covers some 250 acres and the panda effect has been achieved by combining dark monocrystalline silicon panels and light thin film solar panels. The completed plant is expected to deliver 100 MW of power once it goes fully online and it’s by no means the first we’ll see. The company is expecting to develop 100 similar panda shaped installations over the next few years.
The Belt and Road Initiative
While the solar infrastructure plans of many countries seems to be pretty piece meal for one reason or another, in China there’s a definite future direction that is backed entirely by President Xi’s government. The Belt and Road Initiative is all part of a grander plan to build big, big things not only in China itself but across the world, particularly along what is still called The Silk Road.
Now that the USA has decided, if with collective unwillingness, to take a back seat in the climate change and clean energy agenda, China has certainly stepped in to fill the vacuum. It could mean that major projects now have a huge helping hand from a country that was previously seen as one of the biggest polluters in the world.
It isn’t just large projects that are gaining traction in a country that seems to be unstoppable when it comes to renewables – roof top solar is also expanding much quicker than expected and in areas where it’s most needed. According to Bloomberg recently:
“The growth of the market has benefited top panel producers, including JinkoSolar Holding Co. and Trina Solar Ltd. China installed 43 gigawatts of solar power in the first nine months of 2017, already above the 34.5 gigawatts for all of last year.”
We shouldn’t be surprised, of course. China has been seen as the largest solar market for the last four years and went past Germany as the country with the most PV capacity a couple of years ago. The panda solar farm may look cute but it’s a real reminder that things are starting to move very quickly in the solar market as with other renewable technologies.
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