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A 250-acre solar farm shaped like a giant panda has been built in China

A lot of people might start yawning when hearing someone talk about renewable energy and the devastating impact global warming is having on our fragile planet. For those people, I hang my head in shame. But maybe the news I have for you here might pique your interest about the importance of switching our foul dependence on coal and oil to the lovely and wholesome energy sources that come from the sun.

While most solar farms arrange their solar panels in neat rows, one company in China decided to take a little creative license and design one of their new farms in a very cute way.

alt Credit: Panda Green Energy

It's a panda: friendly, adorable, and also slightly cross-eyed (?). The 100MW solar power plant was built by Chinese solar power company Panda Green Energy, and it's kind of genius. It's located in northern China's Shanxi Province in the town of Datong, and it's said to be able to power 16,400 homes at max capacity.

But – in case you couldn't tell – the above image is only an artist's rendering of the design. The real thing looks more like this:

alt Credit: Panda Green Energy

Still pretty cute. And apparently, the idea came from an environmentally passionate teenager.

The whole initiative is unapologetically a PR stunt, but it's also designed to help get kids interested in renewable energy too. The project is also being supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who helped make the Panda Power Plant a reality. UNDP wrote in a statement that their aim was to raise awareness about new energy among young Chinese people, and are hoping to encourage their interest through summer camps and open innovation design contests.

It's all part of the "Panda 100 Plan", a scheme Panda Green Energy hopes to carry out in the next five years. They're aiming to provide 100 plants in the shape of pandas and other animals in China and other countries of the world. A new design was revealed for Fiji, featuring a panda holding a rugby ball:

alt Credit: Panda Green Energy

Just earlier this month, the company announced the successful installation and connection to the grid of their second plant. It's in Guigang, a city in the south of China's Guangxi Province.

alt Credit: Panda Green Energy

They were able to create China's national animal out of solar panels using two types of materials: a dark monocrystalline silicon (a light-absorbing material used in most solar cells) and a lighter thin-film solar cell. The panda farms are another example of China showing off their commitment to renewable energies, with the latest Global Status Report from Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century showing that China is still the world leader in new energy investment, capacity, and generation.

In fact, last year it was revealed that China made up almost half of the additions to global solar capacity in the whole world. AND, they're on track to beat their Paris carbon reduction commitments.