Image: United nations development Program

Who knew clean energy could be this cute?

China connected a panda-shaped solar power plant to the grid last week. 

The project was built by the aptly-named Panda Green Energy, and has an output of 50MW, enough to power more than 8,000 U.S. households, according to Inhabitat.

It’s located in Datong, a city in the province of Shanxi, northern China.

Another panda is in the works on the site.

A bird's eye view of the completed project.

A bird’s eye view of the completed project.

Image: Panda Green Energy

Two types of solar panels — white thin film photovoltaic (PV) cells and black monocrystalline silicon PV cells — give the plant the look of China’s favourite monochromatic animal.

It’s hoped that when the plant is complete, it will have an output of 100MW, and output 3.2 billion kWh of solar energy in 25 years. 

The power plant is part of a UN Development Program (UNDP) effort to promote clean energy to China’s youth, and aims to teach young people about sustainable energy. It will host a summer camp organised by the UNDP and Panda Green Energy in August, for teenagers aged 13-17.

The UNDP is also organising open design challenges with Panda Green Energy.

“Designing the plant in the shape of a panda could inspire young people and get them interested in the applications of solar power,” Panda Green Energy’s CEO, Li Yuan, told state-owned Xinhua in May last year.

Artist's impression of a planned project in Fiji.

Artist’s impression of a planned project in Fiji.

Image: Panda Green Energy

Panda Green Energy is hoping to build panda-shaped power plants in other countries in central and Southeast Asia, too.

The company is planning to expand into countries like Fiji and the Philippines, and wants to build over 100 panda-shaped plants in the next five years. The plants will include motifs inspired by local animals, like the koala or rhinoceros.

“I believe that the panda solar power plants will become a tourist hotspot, and in future we’ll export these panda power plants to other parts of the world,” Li told Xinhua.

[h/t Shanghaiist]

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