The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $13 million to Owens Corning and Soloxel for projects that will help shape the next generation of solar energy technologies. The funding is part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative which seeks to make solar energy systems more affordable and sustainable for homeowners. With the DOE funding, Owens Corning plans to integrate Solexel’s technology into solar roofing solutions that are affordable, aesthetically beautiful, and easy to install.
Schneider Electric recently announced the opening of a 1 MW dual-voltage solar farm spanning six acres at its manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. This is the first dual voltage solar farm in the United States with the ability to operate at both 1000VDC and 600VDC, providing an opportunity for more efficient solar farm operation and enabling Schneider Electric to further its research and testing of renewable energy. Schneider Electric’s Smyrna solar farm is the third in the state of Tennessee rated at 1 MW or more and will generate approximately 1.3 million kWh of electricity annually, 25 percent of the facility’s total use.
The $6.25 million solar farm was designed to operate at either 600V or 1000V. At 1000V, the solar farm uses 40 percent fewer parallel connections than for 600V operation and reduces the fraction of energy lost to resistance by transmitting electricity at a higher voltage.
The installation qualified for a 30 percent federal tax credit and the TVA Generation Partners Program, which offers a premium on all solar generated power that Schneider Electric sells back to TVA. Additionally, the project includes Schneider Electric’s solar inverters, transformers, panelboards, 27kv switchgear, Juno Lighting Group LED products, and additional custom engineered and manufactured devices in the field.
LG Electronics’ Solar Division is now selling its solar panels for residential, rooftop and commercial applications in North America, including a new line of high-performance, photvoltaic multicyrstalline modules and monocrystalline modules. The new PV modules feature a light-weight frame design that drains liquid even when installed at tough horizontal and vertical angles, internal mechanical load standards (5400Pa), and frame anodizing to improve the module frame’s durability.
Specific models include:
- RIE Module – This module uses RIE (Reactive Ion Etching) technology, which has been used in the past to fabricate semiconductors.
- MWT Module – This multicrystalline module uses LG’s metal wrap through (MWT) technology, which can remove the wide ribbon usually found on the front of a multicrystalline module.
- High Power Monocrystalline Module – This module combines all of LG’s second-generation cell manufacturing technology into one cutting-edge unit. This module will be available in 2011.
- Tandem Thin Film – This module uses LG’s Tandem Thin Film technology and responds to a wide range of light frequencies and has and efficiency of 11.1%.
- Multicrystalline module– This module is designed for home, building rooftops and power generation facilities.
- Monocrystalline module – This module is designed for residential roof-top and building applications and is light weight and highly durable.
Allied Building Products Corp. has expanded their website and now have a section dedicated to their Solar Division.
The Solar Division of Allied Building Products Corp. supplies solar panels, mounting hardware, inverters and monitoring systems designed for the commercial rooftop market as well as products geared towards the residential market. The company stocks a full line of solar products, including solar panels from leading solar photovoltaic (“PV”) manufacturers such as Solyndra and SolarWorld.
Allied has more then 180 locations around the country and can provide preliminary designs for commercial solar projects, rooftop delivery, roofing product recommendations, construction financing, credit services, and financing programs for solar projects.
It’s always good to hear that companies who tout the “greenness” of their products practice what they preach. Parterre Flooring Systems, Brooklyn, NY, is one of those companies. The flooring manufacturer makes its headquarters in the, now converted, Brooklyn Navy Yard. The recent $250-million Navy Yard renovation project has the facility on track to receive LEED Gold certification.
The focal point of the project is the first use of roof-mounted wind turbines in Brooklyn. The six wind turbines, along with numerous rooftop solar panels, provide electricity for the building’s lobby and other common areas. Other green aspects of the renovation include reflective roofing and pavement to reduce surface temperatures, recycled rain water for toilet flushing, recycled building materials, high-efficiency lighting fixtures, and natural ventilation.
“At Parterre, we take environmental responsibility seriously,” said president T. Fred Roche. “So, of course, we are extremely enthusiastic about the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s offices receiving power from the rooftop wind turbines and solar panels and being a part of this development’s impressive sustainability initiatives.”
The city also announced plans for other projects at the Navy Yard, including the Duggal Greenhouse, which involves turning a one-story 30,000-sq.-ft. building into “a 60,000-sq.-ft. LEED Platinum facility that will be used to manufacture eco-friendly products and will become a laboratory for new sustainable products.” It is expected that the facility will also create 1,700 jobs.—Gary L. Parr
Solar energy generation is gaining a significant foothold in the commercial market as the technology gets more approachable and as companies work to cut their energy costs and reduce their ecologic impact. One of the newest and largest solar efforts was recently put into service at the world headquarters of Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ. The ground-mounted solar tracking system consists of nearly 7,000 sun-tracking solar panels that generate 2.5 million kWhr/year of energy.
“Supporting the use of clean, reliable solar power is good for our environment and makes good business sense,” said Merck chairman, president, and CEO Richard T. Clark. “This project is consistent with Merck’s ‘going green’ efforts to reduce our environmental footprint and to promote greater efficiency in our use of natural resources.”
As a member of the U.S. EPA (Washington) Climate Leaders, Merck is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 12% by 2012 from a 2004 baseline. A solar project of the size at Whitehouse Station will avoid the annual emission of more than 1,200 tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is about the same as taking 200 cars off the road per year.
The solar array is spread out over 7.5 acres and the panels move to track the sun’s movement throughout the day. Power generated from the system will produce about 7.5% of the Merck site’s electrical needs.
Through novel arrangements that are making the installation of large solar systems more feasible, the Merck system is owned and operated by Dome-Tech Inc., Edison, NJ, a subsidiary of Carrier Corp., Farmington, CT, a unit of United Technologies Corp., Hartford, CT, which will supply solar power to Merck under a 20-yr. purchase agreement. The project was made possible through financial initiatives offered under the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, tax credits issued by the U.S. Federal Solar and Renewables Tax Credit Program, and support from the Readington Township (NJ) Planning Board.
Merck received the Green & Sustainable Energy award from the Hunterdon County (NJ) Planning Board in recognition of the solar project. Merck also recently was recognized by the U.S. EPA, Washington, with a 2009 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for continued efforts to protect the environment. Merck is also a member of the EPA’s Climate RESOLVE program.
“I applaud Merck’s responsible environmental efforts,” said New Jersey governor Jon S. Corzine. “New Jersey has one of the strongest solar programs in the nation and this private sector project is a fine complement to our own energy master plan initiatives that are securing and strengthening the Garden State’s energy future.”—Gary L. Parr