Lonely Planet Writer

Is this Chinese panda-shaped solar farm the most adorable power plant in the world?

Power plants don’t tend to have a reputation for being cute, but a brand new solar farm in China is certainly making our hearts melt. The Panda Power Plant in Dàtóng, China, is shaped like its name, but while it might look cuddly and adorable, it is playing an important role in providing renewable energy.

The Panda Power Plant in Datong, China, is shaped like its name. Image: Panda Green Energy Group
The Panda Power Plant in Datong, China, is shaped like its name. Image: Panda Green Energy Group

In the next five years, the China Merchants New Energy company will carry out the “Panda 100 Program”, and build plants that bring in integrated multi-energy green ecological solutions. The black parts of the panda, such as the ears and arms, are comprised of monocrystalline silicone solar cells, with the grey and white tummy and face bits composed of thin film solar cells. The plants will be able to offer 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of green power within 25 years, saving 1.056 million tons of coal and reducing carbon emissions by 2.74 million tons. And of course like China’s beloved pandas, they look adorable.

The Panda Power Plant in Datong, China, is shaped like its name. Image: Panda Green Energy Group
The Panda Power Plant in Datong, China, is shaped like its name. Image: China Merchants New Energy

This is the first plant of the project, and it’s part an effort to promote sustainable development among China’s young people as well as providing clean electricity. There will be a youth activity centre located at the plant targeted at schoolchildren, and it will outline to them the benefits of solar power.

Not only is it now the site of the first Panda plant, but Dàtóng is a city that has had a colossal renovation of its the old quarter. The city wall has been almost entirely rebuilt, and the town is the gateway to the awe-inspiring Yúngāng Caves, one of China’s most outstanding Buddhist treasures. Dàtóng is also a launchpad to the photogenic Hanging Monastery, the world’s oldest wooden pagoda, crumbling earthen sections of the Great Wall and onward trips to sacred Wǔtái Shān.