Senior Editor
Only in China, right? Literally. This is only in China. Photo: China Merchants New Energy

Only in China, right? Literally. This is only in China. Photo: China Merchants New Energy


The Inertia

China is quickly taking the lead in the global race for the next and greatest form of energy. It’s not going to come from fossil fuels, which sucks for everyone who works in the fossil fuel industry and everyone with their hands fondling the balls of the fossil fuel industry. It’s good for the future of the earth, though, and everyone in it.

Solar farms aren’t generally set up to make people smile. Instead, they’re set up to make people’s lights turn on, which makes far more sense. But China decided they’d do both in a way that is just so… China. They built a solar farm shaped like a giant panda, and god damn is it ever cute.

The plant, built by the clean power giant China Merchants New Energy Group, is 248 acres and isn’t even half done. When completed, it will be 1,500 acres and have a whole other panda.

Giant pandas, for those out of the giant panda news loop, recently just made a big move. For years, they were on the endangered species list, but as of last year, they’re officially off of it.

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Pandas were (and still kind of are, despite the upgrade off the endangered species list) in the direst of straits up until just a few years ago. That’s for a few reasons, all of which are thoroughly intertwined. Here they are, in quick and dirty short form: female pandas suck at reproducing. They only have a 2-3 day window in which they can get knocked up. Since humans in general and China specifically have decided that it’s fine to tear up vast tracts of land for our corn and wheat and high rise buildings, pandas were pretty much driven out of house and home. At one point, there were somewhere between 1000 and 2000 giant pandas left in the wild, and none of them were all that successful in finding each other to make that number increase. In 2004, the IUCN estimated that there were 1,596 left. Anyway, that’s your panda update. Now back to the solar farm shaped that’s just like one.

The first phase of it was finished on June 30th. At 50-megawatts, it began putting power into northwestern China’s grid. The panda will be getting a partner in a few months. The Panda Power Plant–that’s the actual name–will produce a pretty staggering amount of energy: 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy in 25 years, according to ILF.com and China Merchants New Energy Group.



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