Panda Power Plant – What solar power animal should we have in the UK?

(Chatting to my colleagues at Regen, we really enjoy this, and are wondering what animal we would have in the UK…. we also find it slightly ironic that you can only see it from an aeroplane!)

Article shared from:|  PTI | Written by Raina Singh

Cute panda products flock markets and their videos the internet. Now pandas have entered the world of solar energy.

While most solar farms look like an Excel sheet with rows and columns, Datong, China has built a large solar farm shaped like the iconic black and white giant panda.

The 250-acre station will have a have a capacity of 100 megawatts when fully connected, providing 3.2 billion kilowatt-hour of green electricity in 25 years. That is equivalent to saving 1.056 million tonnes of coal, or reducing 2.74 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Called the Panda Power Plant, the project is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It has been built by Chinese company Panda Green Energy. The company’s CEO Li Yuan explains the panda-shape by sharing that “Designing the plant in the shape of a panda could inspire young people and get them interested in the applications of solar power.”

This is only the beginning, further expansions are underway and the power plant will be 1,500 acres when complete in the next 5 years. The Telegraph has reported that ‘Young candidates from around China will be recruited to participate in summer camps at the panda power stations, with a focus on providing them with a deeper understanding of green energies.’

There are also plans to bring panda power stations to Fiji and the Philippines, with the aim of building 100 across the globe over the next five years.



Poetry resonating in the sustainable energy sector

In 2012, Regen appointed a poet in residence – Matt Harvey to work with the Regen team, members and networks.

As a result of the residency, Matt wrote a number of poems which were illustrated and published in The Element in the Room – Poems inspired by renewable energy.

There are no copies of that first edition left now, (all 1500 copes have found happy homes) …….BUT the impact of this residency endures!

Most recently Chris Pritchett at Partner at the legal firm Foot Anstey referenced Matt’s influence on the sustainable energy sector when he introduced a poem he penned for Regen’s member’s forum (If you’re not already a member, you should be!)

Here is that poem! (Thanks Chris and Matt!)

Chris Pritchett’s poem on the state of the sustainable energy sector

The Emissions reduction plan has been much reduced, it would seem

to supporting international action on climate, said the Queen,

So we’re at a crossroads, in a bit of vacuum

And our new government has some worrying new friends, I presume

Who unlike a wind farm, aren’t the biggest of fans

of climate change science And the impact of man


But here we’re an industry of pride and innovation;

With a speed of technology outstripping the nation’s

Political quagmire, and when so much is a stake

The brains will get on with it, whatever it takes


But the opportunity’s here, the prospects are golden

To be Smart and look forward, not sit around beholden to

Endless debate about “it’s this” or “it’s that”

It’s warming up, quite frankly, and that’s where we’re at


But in this job I’ve the privilege of communing

with inspiring people

And the ideas are booming

like the sound of a cannon

The starting report as the Energy revolution gains worldwide support


Decentralised, digitised, flexible markets

Peer to peer trading by electron based start-ups

And witness the speed of the battery deployment;

Grid balancing, energy security, generating employment


So many smart people doing very smart things

Cleaning the air and making us kings

of our own energy kingdom

In our streets and our homes

So much divides us, but we all charge our phones


So law makers, law shakers, disrupters and visionaries

Trendsetters, go-getters, inventers and missionaries

It’s happening now, in our cities and communities

A shared energy vision, driving progress and unities


Let’s encourage the brains and the innovative types

Get the regulatory framework revised and done right


Let’s be smart to about costs, and fair to all folk

When a couple of quid on a bill is a joke

Because the tide is shifting and I think that we oughta

Know that fivers get wet if your home’s underwater


So, my indulgency here is coming to an end;

and I look forward not backwards For my means to an end

With the climate deniers and temperature raises

Please be all green, like the snooker table BEIS is.

Make a Solar Oven! – Instructions

 Explaining the concept of renewable energy to kids can be tricky, which is why making a solar oven is such a great activity.
PBS kids has a great step-by-step solar oven guide,
or check out this easy Home Training Tools method.
They even have some tasty recipes for you to make in your new cooker! Flickr 
Here is that Step by step guide:
Harness the sun’s heat to cook up a tasty treat.

  • 2 large sheets of black poster board
  • aluminum foil
  • black construction paper
  • cardboard box
  • pizza box
  • newspaper
  • tape
  • book
  • resealable plastic baggies
  • graham crackers
  • marshmallows
  • chocolate bar
  • 3 thermometers


  1. Check with an adult before you begin.
  2. Scot of CA sent in a design for a cone-shaped Solar Cooker. Caroline and Libby sent in a design for a pizza box Solar Cooker. You can just make one of these Solar Cookers or make them both to see which one cooks a s’more the fastest.
  3. To make Scot’s Solar Cooker, glue two pieces of black poster board together to make one long piece. Cover one side with aluminum foil.
  4. Bend the poster board, foil side in, into a cone shape and tape it together. The cone should still be open on both ends.
  5. Put black construction paper in the bottom of a cardboard box. This dark surface will absorb heat into the bottom of the box.
  6. Prop the cone in the box with the narrower opening pointing down.
  7. Put a graham cracker with a marshmallow on top of it in a resealable baggie. Chocolate melts faster than marshmallows, so it works best to cook the marshmallow first and add the chocolate later.
  8. Put the baggie on the bottom of the box in the center of the cone.
  9. To make Caroline and Libby’s pizza box Solar Cooker, put a few sheets of newspaper in the bottom of a pizza box. Cover the newspaper with black construction paper to absorb heat.
  10. Cut a flap out of the top of the pizza box two inches from the sides and front but attached in the back. Bend it back and cover the inside of the flap with aluminum foil.
  11. Tape plastic wrap across the hole left by the flap.
  12. Put a graham cracker with a marshmallow on it on top of the black paper in the bottom of the box. Close the box.
  13. Use a book or tape to prop open the flap so that the aluminum foil can catch the sunlight and reflect it onto the marshmallow.
  14. Make an extra s’more to be the control. Don’t put this one in a Solar Cooker. If the control s’more cooks as well as the ones in the Solar Cookers, you will know that the Solar Cookers aren’t working better than the sun by itself. Predict how long you think it will take to cook the s’more and which cooker will get hotter and cook faster.
  15. You need the sun to make your Solar Cookers work, so you’ll need to do your cooking outside.
  16. Once you set up your Solar Cookers outside, put a thermometer inside each one and one on the control s’more. This will help you compare the temperature in the Solar Cooker to the temperature outside. If the Solar Cookers are working, it will be hotter inside the cookers than it is outside on the control.
  17. Check your Solar Cookers every 15 minutes to make sure they aren’t in the shade. If the sun moves, move the cookers so they stay in the sun.
  18. Time how long it takes to cook the s’mores. Which cooker got hotter? Which one baked more quickly? Why do you think it was faster?
  19. When your marshmallows are almost done, add the chocolate to the s’mores, wait a minute for it to get soft, and enjoy a tasty treat!

Can you think up an even better Solar Cooker design? You will need a container for the air, like a shoebox or a plastic container; something to let the sun shine in, like plastic wrap; and materials that help absorb the sunlight, like black paper. Build your Solar Cooker and compare its cooking time with the ones you’ve already tested. Did you improve the cooking time? Did the cooker get hotter? What did you change about the Solar Cooker design? What materials did you use to build it? Why do you think it was or wasn’t faster?

Global Warming Science – Time to go back to school?

Here at Naturesave, we thought we would offer you a simple climate change experiment, one that you can perform at home, and one that will clearly demonstrate what happens when the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere increase. Why do we feel the need to do this?

Well, the fundamentals of climate change have been understood for decades. Yet with Donald Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, it seems there are many some have not quite yet accepted the science. Even at home, recent research reveals that one in eight (13%) of Brits admit they don’t think global warming is real – that’s 8.5 million people, or roughly the population of London.

The greenhouse gasses, CO2 and methane, are naturally occurring in limited amounts and help keep our atmosphere at just the right temperature to sustain life as we know it. Unfortunately if we produce an excess of these gasses, the global average temperature will rise, leading to a catalogue of potentially serious problems.

The science is quite simple. Before human economic activity began to increase, the earth was able to maintain a relatively stable temperature by reflecting back much of the suns solar energy. About one third of this solar radiation is immediately reflected straight back into space. The rest is absorbed by into the oceans and the land before being released into the atmosphere as thermal radiation, which then passes out into space

The problem with gasses like CO2 and methane, is their ability to trap solar radiation within our atmosphere, preventing it from being reflected back into space. Increasing the presence of these gasses holds more heat in the atmosphere, causing it to heat up, just like a greenhouse.

Follow the steps below, to perform the experiment to demonstrate the impact of a build up of greenhouse gasses.

What you will need: –

  • 2 identical large clear plastic bottle
  • Two thermometers
    • (either a traditional type or digital temperature probes)
  • Two spotlights of equal intensity.
    • You could always use one, in-between the two bottles)
  • Blue tac or plasticine (to seal the bottles)
  • 1 small bottle for CO2 collection
  • Malt vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • 1 balloon

How long will it take – Less than an hour

When and where to carry it out – At home, at school, at dinner parties, just about anywhere really.

Ok, Lets do it

Step 1

Cut the top of each plastic bottle, place a thermometer into each and seal with sticky tape. Ensure the thermometers are positioned in the same manor in each bottle. (As an option you can add a similar amount of water in each bottle. This improves stability and acts to simulate the water on our planet). Seal both bottles with the blue tac.

Step 2

Place the light source at an equal distance in front of each plastic bottle. You have now created two simulated atmospheres that represent the earth. One bottle will be left to contain regular air. In the second you need to add a source of CO2.

Step 3

Record the temperature in both test bottles before commencing the experiment.

Step 4

Preparing the CO2 source. Pour the vinegar into the small plastic bottle. (Fill it by approximately one fifth). Then, take the balloon and add two heaped teaspoons of baking soda into the balloon. Carefully place the balloon over the neck of the bottle, ensuring it is sealed. When ready, lift up the balloon so the baking soda contents falls into the bottle. The reaction will then produce CO2, which will fill the balloon.

Step 5

Adding the greenhouse gas (the CO2). Remove the balloon from the source bottle, being careful not to let the gas escape. Now attach the balloon over the neck of one of the test bottles. Note, it can help to squeeze in the sides of the bottle a little beforehand, this helps when adding add the CO2. Remove the balloon and replace the seal immediately.

Step 6

Your global warming simulation has now begun. Record the temperature in both bottles every minute for 10 minutes. In this experiment, the test bottles represent our atmosphere. The different levels of CO2 between the bottles should demonstrate what happens when greenhouse gas levels increase. As you will observe the bottle with the added CO2 will experience a greater temperature increase, as the COacts to traps the energy supplied by the lamp.

We think this experiment clearly proves the impact of an increase in greenhouse gasses. If you want further evidence, that explores the impact of human activity on causing climate change, we recommend using this tool created at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies – NASA Interactive Visualisation.

Art and Energy outdoors – 19 July – Bidwell Woodland, Devon

The invitation:

Come and join me in the beatuful Bidwell woodland to play with energy in the stream 🙂

We will go for a short walk through the woodland and then set up ‘camp’ by the stream where we will have a go at making a water wheel from things that we find in the vicinity.

What you need:

  • We will be outside throughout the session, so please bring appropriate clothing. (I suggest trousers and walking boot/shoes given we will be in grass and woodland….but also something you could paddle in!)
  • Perhaps a blanket to sit on?
  • We’ll have a bit of string and some snippers for you to use in the making session, but if you’d like to bring anything else you’d find useful, that would be great. (Nothing too heavy!)
  • Please bring refreshments and water with you.
  • There are no toilets on site.(The nearest toilet is at The Church House Inn which is about 10-15 minutes walk away)


Andrew Lithgow has kindly offered to host us at Bidwell Woodland where he lives off grid and we might be able to see how he harnesses and uses energy sustainably.


There is imited parking at Bidwell Woodland so places on the sessions are limited and need to be booked in advance.

Book your place!

Ernest Cook – Art and Energy outdoors

Ernest Cook has been supporting Regen’s Art and Energy work outdoors.


Project overview

In collaboration with Regen, 12 1st Year students on the university-level Foundation Degree Graphic Communication course at Exeter School of Art (part of Exeter College), undertook a project to explore sustainable energy.


Following a day’s workshop outdoors at Bidwell Woodland which involved an energy walk, a challenge to make a water wheel, and a highly informative briefing about the energy system and the future of energy in our homes and localities from Regen’s Chloe Uden, students researched the various forms of sustainable energy which were being used by Andrew Lithgow in his Off-Grid home.

It was decided to give the Exeter students a challenge to deepen their understanding of sustainable energy by setting coursework assignment to re-design the identity for local Sustainable Energy Groups.

After choosing one specific community group to re-brand, students investigated their work, online, through calls and sometimes visits. They then developed a logo design and refined it, the brand identity was then applied to stationery, advertising, web site pages and a range of other touch points.

“This was a particularly interesting and exciting project for the students to work on as they were able to gain greater awareness of the importance of sustainable energy technologies, whilst working on a potentially “live” design brief.

The students really appreciated the opportunity to show their work at Regen’s Smart Energy Marketplace on the 28th of March 2017 where they received positive feedback from many of the visitors and community energy groups who visited. Subsequently students have been given paid industry-based, live briefs by visitors to the event.” Nigel Lowe, Course leader

Examples if water wheels made in outdoor workshop



Making connections with Community Energy Groups

3 local Community Energy groups followed up with students following the marketplace event – Teign Energy Communities, Tamar Community Energy and 361

Students were also offered the opportunity of paid work to create images for an energy podcast.

“I Just wanted to let you know that I met the Art students on Thurs last week who did the community energy re-design project and Nigel. Good session! There was one person who had designed for TECs so we looked at all the re-designs and their rationale. The wide age range was very interesting.

I enjoyed meeting them and hearing what they had to say about the way we present ourselves on our websites in particular. I took plenty away with me. It was good to hear how much they had enjoyed engaging with the project and your workshop with them had been very helpful and motivating. One woman had even been moved to put polar pv on her roof!”

Helen Chessum – Teign Energy Communities

Photographs of work displayed at Smart energy Marketplace


 Other outcomes:

The start of an art and energy outdoors conversation in Exeter 

In addition to the project outlined above, and as a result of the success of the first outdoor workshop with young people, Regen trialled a ‘drawing energy outdoors’ session with 5 local ‘creatives’ in Heavitree taking them to Heavitree Pleasure Ground.

The day long workshop included:

  • Drawing energy Pictionary
  • Discussions about how we know about energy in our environment
  • Short challenges to ‘see’ and draw a particular energy type – sharing the results and experience with others in the group
  • A longer challenge to incorporate the learning within the artists’ ‘usual’ landscape drawing approach.

Feedback from participants was very positive:

Josie Ashe (an illustrator) spent time following the workshop to develop their ideas further:

“The most interesting elements for me were different starting points and different directions often leading to consensus. Most interesting element was group energy! I felt I learnt something, even in one workshop and I will endeavour to change my way of working to try to be more fluid.

I would love to do it again sometime

I’m not sure what could be improved, Perhaps a way to share ongoing work and so help build and stretch ideas if ppl were interested.

Working outside much more relaxing, I found my ideas were less constrained. Inside seems more detailed, more structured thinking and observing.” Josie Ashe

Sarah Connors (a craft maker) was keen to repeat the experience more regularly and suggested a monthly get together as she felt it was valuable session but the subject matter demanded more attention.

“The most interesting parts of the day were talking though everyone’s interpretations of different energy and also the very different styles and methods that people used to create art. It opened up different ways that I might record when drawing or painting. It might be nice to have a 3-d materials session. Outside the natural energies really dominated!” Sarah Connors

Liese Webley (a local artist) particularly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time socially and investigating a new subject in collaboration with others. Being outside, kept that subject matter very present.

“I found it really helpful to have a discussion on representing energy in a visual way… alternative sources like the aesthetics of solar panels. The workshop made me think about the energy in a new way. It was great to be creative with others…very inspiring.

As it was a windy day it was brilliant to be outside in the elements thinking about energy natural and man-made sources” Liese Webley

Naomi Wright (a local artist) took the theme back to her local art group in Crediton where they pursued the theme and discussion further.

“It is the beginning of term and we stand about discussing our theme for our classes ahead. I suggest art and energy, it interests me for all sorts of reasons. I say I’ve been on a similar themed workshop with some college students outdoors as part of Regensw’s art and energy programme. I wonder whether it will interest the class. We think about the wide range of meanings for energy. Energy is everything, I say, remembering a recent workshop. In a physical sense, binding the molecules of our being, energy fixed from the sun, in the movement of a river, the heat from a fire, in our food, in the every-day. We have our own energy, in the spirit of the land, in ley-lines, in happiness, in despair.

So the term at Crediton arts centre has taken this as a theme…. A couple of us are working with an old luccombe oak that has had to be cut down in the local park. We think of the power within, the height and weight of it, the history in it, the energy held beneath in the ground. The dying energy, used by fungus, the last of the leaves to be photo-synthesising.

Others in the class discuss their drawings through the eye of an energy lens. Lines are energetic, directional, growing. The still life is far from still as vegetation takes on a new meaning, pots spin, and all the senses are enlivened.” Naomi Wright

Making energy art outdoors with pupils from St Christopher’s Prep school in Staverton

Through the art and energy outdoors project that we did with support from Ernest Cook, we also made links with Totnes Renewable Energy Society who have been developing an energy educataion week for primary children.

Totnes Renewable Energy Society (Tresoc) launched its ‘Renewable Energy Experiential Learning’ (REEL) programme, designed to stimulate education in renewable energy technologies and wider energy issues in local primary schools. The programme brings together many local organisations and businesses with expertise in technology, investment, sustainability, ecology, learning and sharing. These include: The Bio-regional Learning Centre, Regen, Hydrosense, Fishtek, Beco Solar, South Brent Community Energy Society and Dartington Hall Trust.

REEL, kicked off with a 3-week pilot project at St Christopher’s Prep School Staverton for key stage 2 students, and included practical, hands-on making, site visits, critical thinking ideation and presentation of learnings. It focused on the landscape-scale renewable energy schemes currently generating electricity for local people: hydro, using Totnes Weir; solar, using Dartington Hall Trust Solar Farm; and, wind, using South Brent Community Energy Society Wind Turbine. Victoria Kennington,

Regen worked with the pupils outside next to the hydro project at Totnes weir to play with found materials and explore how they interact with the water flow.

Head at St Christopher’s commented “We were very excited to be part of the REEL pilot project at St Christopher’s as we look to increase the STEM opportunities for our pupils. Year 6 are looking forward to using their science and design technology skills over the course of this three week programme and learning more about the sustainable and renewable energy projects in their local area”.

Chloe’s approach as a guide allowed the students to think for themselves out in nature… each experimental water wheel was unique – most importantly, they had fun!” Jane Brady, TRESOC

Tresoc aim is to gradually offer its education programme to all local primary schools and expand the focus from key stage 2 to key stage 1. ‘The water wheel recipe’ Regen developed for the Ernest Cook project and then re-tested with Staverton pupils will be incorporated into the ‘REEL’ proramme and used in future projects.

Future Plans

Having established links with Bidwell Woodland in Rattery, we would like to extend the project with a more in depth investigation of energy outdoors across the period of a year.

Being able to spend an extended period of time with a range of people in one outdoor space would allow us to tell the energy story of a particular place through a variety of voices and that shared investigation would be really rich.

Renewable Futures. Art, Science and Society in the Post-Media Age Paperback – 28 Apr 2017

With this Renewable Futures volume, we begin a new series of Acoustic Space, that will focus on exploring the transformative potential of art in the post-media age.

Our book presents the research and practices that aim to invent new avenues for more sustainable and imaginative future developments.

The papers from the 1st Renewable Futures Conference selected in this volume are aimed at shaping new contact zones between traditionally separated domains art and science, academic research and independent creative practices, sustainable businesses and social engagement in the 21st century.

The first chapter highlights the role of technology, considering ‘technopolitics’ as a very profound perspective for the contextualisation of an art practice in the current phase of society.

The second chapter introduces the notion of ‘contemporary conditions’ and discusses theories and practices of ‘post-media’, ‘post-internet’ and other ‘posts’.

The third chapter looks at artistic engagement with different fields of science, ecological issues and interspecies relations, while the fourth chapter discusses yet another role which artists have been active in partaking in collecting and coding, manipulating and retransmitting processes.

The closing section includes an overview of the Fields exhibition (Riga 2014), a large-scale post-media manifestation, jointly curated by Armin Medosch, Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits.

Authors and contributors: Domenico Quaranta, Martha Buskirk, Misko Suvakovic, Dieter Daniels, Andreas Broeckmann, Geoff Cox, Jacob Lund, Ieva Astahovska, Karla Brunet, Oksana Chepelyk, Edith Doove, Gabriela Galati, Julian Hanna, Lisa Jevbratt, Normunds Kozlovs, AnneMarie Maes, Conor McGarrigle, Armin Medosch, Jennifer no.e Parker, Daniela de Paulis, Helena Sederholm, Ilva Skulte, Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits, Vygandas Vegas Simbelis, Isidora Todorovic, Polona Tratnik and Fields Exhibition artists.

Buy this book on amazon