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Photo:Courtesy of Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast company

 

The world's first panda-shaped solar station in Datong, North China's Shanxi Province, was officially put into operation on Thursday after a two-month dry run. 

The Panda Power Plant, jointly launched by the Hong Kong-based Panda Green Energy Group Limited and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on September 1, 2016, sits on 248 acres in Datong and was connected to a grid for a dry run on June 29, according to the Panda Green Energy's website.

The power plant will have a total installed capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) when fully connected, which is estimated to provide 3.2 billion kWh of solar-powered electricity in 25 years. That is equivalent to saving 1.056 million tons of coal, or a reduction of 2.74 million tons in carbon dioxide emissions.

The Panda Green Energy told the Global Times on Thursday it hopes the power plant will provide new energy solutions to countries and regions along  the "Belt and Road" routes.

The company also said that the Panda Power Plant was first proposed by a Chinese high school student studying in the US, before the project was announced in May 2016.

The student named Ada came up with the idea two years ago when she was only 15 years old, according to the Xinhua report, adding that she went to visit the plant in person and "felt excited to see her idea come true."

"It was designed as a pair of young panda babies in the first phase, and the second phase will be built as an adult panda couple, which together would make a happy panda family," the company said. 

"The power plant integrates the world's most advanced technology and equipment. The colors of the solar cell panels generate a black and white effect. Thus, the power plant is presented as a vivid image of the giant panda looking down," the company added.

The company plans to bring panda power stations to Fiji and the Philippines, hoping to build 100 of them around the world in the next five years, the Telegraph reported.

The plant is said to cost 350 million yuan ($52 million) to construct and would require an investment of $2.9 billion for 100 such plants, Reuters reported, citing Li Yuan, the chief executive of Panda Green Energy.

The company also said it held a ceremony at the United Nations' office in Beijing Thursday to invite young candidates from around China  to the opening of the UNDP's "Youth Leadership Summer Camp for Climate Action" and Datong Panda Power Plant's official grid connection.