Power company Duke Energy plans to build a solar panel farm across 20 acres in Orlando, Florida, near Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park in the shape of Mickey Mouse. The solar farm will be in the form of three circles that symbolize the famous mouse and will help power Disney's sprawling resort complex.
Duke Energy will build and operate the five-megawatt, 48,000-panel solar farm. It will sell the power to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which manages the land at Walt Disney World Resort. The Board of Supervisors for Reedy Creek Improvement District approved the deal, which is in the form of a 15-year power purchase agreement.
Duke Energy plans to start construction on the solar farm this summer. The project could be up and running by the end of the year.
While Duke Energy is a major operator of coal and natural gas plants, the company has been working on building a variety of solar panel farms recently. In April Duke Energy announced it plans to build 500 megawatts' worth (about the size of a large coal or gas plant) of solar panel installations in Florida by 2024.
Coal is increasingly looking like the power source of the past for both Duke Energy and for many other American power companies. More efficient and cleaner low cost natural gas is becoming the fossil fuel of choice, while solar panels are being added into the mix, too. Duke pleaded guilty earlier this month to violations of the Clean Water Act for polluting rivers with coal ash from five coal plants in North Carolina.
Duke Energy is retiring some of its older coal plants, including its coal plant in Asheville, North Carolina. At one of its decommissioned coal plants in Ohio, the company is planning to build a battery farm with battery maker LG Chem and battery management startup Greensmith Energy. (For more on that, read our coverage low cost batteries and smart software from earlier this month.)