Harnessing the Power of the Sun: We Toured Disney’s GIANT New Solar Facility

Conservation and caring for the planet have been core values of The Walt Disney Company since the beginning. In fact, Walt himself ensured that one-third of the land purchased for Walt Disney World would never be developed for entertainment, but would be used for conservation projects. And last week, we were lucky enough to tour one of Disney’s newest green initiatives — a brand-new Solar Energy Facility!

Walt Disney World Solar Facility

The Solar Facility is located just outside of Walt Disney World property, in the Reedy Creek Improvement District — which is the municipality that oversees Walt Disney World. Origis Energy USA, a solar energy company out of Miami, served as the developer on the project.

Walt Disney World Solar Facility

This 270-acre facility boasts more than 500,000 solar panels, and during peak sun hours can produce enough energy to run up to 25 percent of Walt Disney World. The energy produced will all be sent to the utility grid, and used throughout Disney property to power the magic. These half-million panels are capable of producing more than 50 megawatts of power. That’s enough clean energy to power approximately 50,000 homes, or TWO Walt Disney World theme parks!

Walt Disney World Solar Facility

The panels sit on motors, which use a solar-powered tracker (the white panel in the middle, above) to follow the sun. The tracker tells the panels which angle to face so they receive maximum sun exposure. For example, at noon they will lay flat, facing directly up.

AllEars.net reporter Molly at Disney’s new solar energy facility

The panels are able to absorb energy during the day, even if it’s rainy or overcast — though it may not be as much as a full sunshine day. And as you can tell — the panel arrays are huge!

Walt Disney World Solar Facility – Pollinator Gardens

Solar isn’t the only resident on the new property. Disney Animal Sciences and Horticulture teams are also collaborating to plant a huge pollinator garden.  Currently they are in the testing phase to see which plants are most successful, but eventually two-thirds of the property will be covered in plants and flowers that attract helpful pollinator species. In time, they’d like to see more than 50 species of bees, butterflies, and other insects thrive in this garden — especially endangered species. So far they have seen about 15, in just a few short weeks.

Walt Disney World Solar Facility – Pollinator Gardens

And, as a fun surprise…

…AllEars.net got to leave its mark on a panel for years and years to come!

This new property joins the much smaller, Mickey Mouse-shaped solar facility near Magic Kingdom, which opened in 2016 as part of Disney’s long-term sustainability goals. These solar facilities are a big part of Disney’s goal to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2020, as compared to 2012.

“You’ve probably heard people talk about conservation. Well, conservation isn’t just the business of a few people. It’s a matter that concerns all of us.”  – Walt Disney

What do you think of the new Solar Facility and Disney’s sustainability goals? Let us know in the comments!

Read more about Disney’s commitment to conservation and its other “green” initiatives:

 

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AllEars.Net was an invited guest of Walt Disney World at a Media Tour of the Solar Facility. This did not affect our opinion; our opinion is our own.

Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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