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By Cynthia Shahan

The last time I visited Walt Disney World was decades ago. I am more of a candidate for hiking the Appalachian trail than going to a theme park. However, one thing that would have me jump to go is another chance to view and photograph a large solar installation. I visited a few months back regarding a solar power project that was going online to power a good portion of Disney World’s theme parks.

Valerie Cops, with the Origis Energy team, emailed an invitation earlier this year to celebrate that “FL Solar 5,” powering much of Disney World in Central Florida, is now up and running.

The media enjoyed an up-close view of the expansive field of solar panels, not the biggest in the world but, at 50 megawatts (MW), one of the biggest in Florida. There are half a million solar panels there.

Visiting the renewable energy landscape growing around the globe is a always positive experience that lifts the spirit a bit — something we all need. We toured this new solar park as part of an Earth Day celebration from Walt Disney World Resort. Yes, it’s also good press for the famous resort and broader Disney company, but the important thing is that the solar panels are in the ground and producing clean electricity — a ton of it.

It’s a bit past Earth Day now, but for those who care, every day is important for the environment, the ecology, the world that supports our lives. Every day is another chance to lighten your footprint on planet Earth.

Walt Disney set that philosophy in motion, prompting environmental stewardship considerations for his theme parks early on. It follows that in many diverse ways Disney World is working to have a lighter footprint.

This tour, provided by Origis Energy USA, seems like a good step forward, a very important one. It will be nice when the full goal of completely renewable energy powering Disney manifests, as is Disney’s goal.

Perhaps by that time Disney will also do away with all plastic use. The resort did provide stainless steel water containers, a good tool for those who prefer to lighten their plastic footprint.

Located adjacent to state road 429, the facility is expected to generate enough renewable energy to essentially operate two of Disney’s four Florida theme parks. It will join a growing trend to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by tens of thousands of tons per year.

Overall, The Walt Disney Company has a 2020 goal to reduce emissions by 50% compared to 2012. This solar park is one of the big final projects put into place to hit that goal.