Duke Energy and Walt Disney World officials are announcing details of the Mickey-shaped solar farm near Epcot this morning.
The five-megawatt solar farm is being called the Walt Disney World Solar Facility. It is visible from the air as a giant Mickey Mouse shape. It’s just off the east shoulder of World Drive, near its intersection with Epcot Center Drive. It’s just west of Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort.
The farm is about 22 acres, part of a 15-year agreement that allows Duke Energy to build, own and operate the farm on Disney’s land. In return, the farm will provide solar power to Walt Disney World.
It’s taken Disney a while to build a large-scale solar facility, but the Epcot area is no stranger to solar panels. Epcot’s Universe of Energy building had panels on it roof since October 1982.
On Tuesday morning, Angie Renner, Disney World’s environmental integration director helped Duke Energy state president Alex Glenn through a giant symbolic switch to signify the farm coming online. But the facility was already generating power on a bright sunny day — evidenced by a high-pitched whine from the converters.
Renner said the solar farm was part of the visioning process for 2020 projects, and was a result of combined discussions about solar between Disney World, Duke, and Reedy Creek Improvement District.
It’s also part of Duke’s push to add more solar power in Florida. It had trailed behind NextEra (FPL), but its new facilities will make it about even with NextEra in terms of solar photovoltaic. NextEra, however, also has a large solar thermal plant in Martin County that used solar energy to produce steam power.
The solar farm isn’t the largest hidden Mickey, however. That would be a 60-acre forest in Clermont, Florida, just east of U.S. Highway 27.
The Sentinel wrote about the story in May 2015. Mashable and other national news outlets picked up the story about the solar farm when it first appeared on aerial photos updated by Google’s Nearmaps.
Five megawatts is the amount needed to power about 820 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Disney is touting the farm as the “latest initiative in Disney’s long-standing commitment to environmental conservation.”
The facility “will help reduce the impact on the environment,” according to a joint announcement from Duke Energy and Walt Disney World.
Source: Orlando Sentinel