Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment at Disney Parks, announced in late April Disney's plan to bring a new 50-megawatt solar facility online by the end of the year; which would generate enough renewable clean energy to power two of its four theme parks in Florida.
The new facility will be located near Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with construction beginning in summertime. This is not Disney's first solar installation; Epcot's Universe of Energy building had panels on its roof since October 1982. In addition, in 2016 Disney unveiled a solar facility near Epcot (pictured below) that generates enough power for 1,000 homes. This was Disney's first major solar installation, which covers 22 acres with 48,000 panels, generating 5 megawatts of energy.
To put it into perspective, the new solar installation will provide ten times the megawatts as the one pictured above. The 270-acre installation will be comprised of almost 500,000 individual panels, and generate 50 megawatts of energy! For some reference of how much power this is capable of generating, check out the infographic below.
Walt Disney Company has a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020, and Penning called the new installation as “the next milestone in Disney’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship.” In addition, Disney's team will explore ways to make the development of this new solar farm pollinator friendly, “with rich wildflowers and vegetation, creating a safe and welcoming habitat for butterflies, bees and other insects, including endangered and at-risk species.”
With the company's longstanding history and influence, Disney's commitments to sustainability are important. A massive amount of energy is needed every year to run the company's theme parks; this commitment to clean energy generation is one step to promoting a more sustainable economy.