While Earth day is celebrated on April 22nd, at Walt Disney World every day is Earth day as the company is constantly taking steps toward their goals of conserving water, attaining net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and much more. On April 18th, 2019 Walt Disney World held an event ‘Powering the Magic with Solar’ which showcased its brand new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar facility.
I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes at this event to find out exactly how this facility works, what it consists of, and of course what it actually does for Walt Disney World. Driving into this facility was incredible with solar panels going on as far as I could see, it is hard to fully grasp just how large 270-acres is until you are seeing it in person! This massive new solar facility was built in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and Solar developer Origis Energy USA. This groundbreaking facility is the largest venture in solar energy for Disney theme parks, it is expected to generate enough renewable clean energy to operate two of Disney’s four theme parks in Central Florida annually.
This facility will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tons per year. To put all of that into perspective it is equivalent to powering 17,000 home a year. Something I found incredible about the solar facility is that the panels are attached to trackers, meaning as the sun moves the solar panels move with it in order to fully take advantage of the sun’s rays.
Not only this but they are also tuned into local weather trackers so in the event of a hurricane the systems assess the storm patterns and wind and move the panels in the safest position to withstand the storm, how incredible is that? In addition to creating an incredible amount of renewable energy it also will focus on helping the environment and wildlife by providing a remarkable habitat for native wildlife throughout Central Florida.
Environmental and horticultural experts from Disney are collaborating in an attempt to make two-thirds of the facility pollinator friendly, this means creating a safe environment for bees, butterflies, and other insects. This team is currently studying a test garden area consisting of sixty-four six by six plots testing different flowers and soil mixtures, this research will help identify the ideal combination of native plants and soil for pollinators.
The creative teams involved on this project truly found a way to make use of the space inside this 270-acres of land. All of these efforts bring us back to the ongoing commitment to the environment that the Walt Disney World Company has always shown starting with Walt Disney himself and his goals of conservation and preserving the environment, I can only imagine how proud he would be of the continued development and dedication from all of the cast members.