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Dell's Solar Grove, located at its headquarters in Round Rock, Texas  (Source: McBride OxBlue Camera via Jetson Green)

Children check out the Florida Power and Light's DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center outside Arcadia, Florida.  (Source: daylife)
The solar industry continues to shine brightly

As costs of solar deployments drop, many are looking to get in on a piece of the action.  Solar shingles and solar windows are just a couple of the promising technologies likely to see mass production over the next few years.  However, traditional installations are also thriving.

Dell Computer just received a completed 130 kW installation of Solar Trees at its headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.  The installation was designed by Envision Solar, BP Solar, and Weitz Company.  Contracting was handled by McBride Electric.

The resulting parking lot, dubbed the Dell Solar Grove, both provides 50 shady parking spots and clean green energy.  The lot also features Envision Solar's CleanCharge solar charging stations using the Coulomb ChargePoint technology.  These stations will help charge current and upcoming plug-in vehicles, such as the Tesla Roadster or 2011 Chevy Volt.  The plan to use solar to charge EVs is also being championed by Japanese automaker Nissan, who looks to use solar to charge up its 2011 Leaf EV.

Also making solar news is the near completion of the Soto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida.  Owned by Florida Power & Light Company, this 25 MW installation features 90,000 photovoltaic panels and will go online by the end of this month.  When it does go online, it will become one of the nation's single largest solar installations.  Together with centers in Martin County and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida will be shortly getting 110 MW of new solar generation capacity, boosting it to the second largest solar-producing state in the nation.

The new Soto Center will generate enough power for 3,000 homes.  FPL Vice President and Chief Development Officer Eric Silagy brags, "Large-scale solar projects such as FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center provide Florida with the opportunity to create and attract more clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change.  Large-scale solar projects such as FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center provide Florida with the opportunity to create and attract more clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change."

The plant's construction and maintenance have created 400 jobs.  The project will also generate an estimated $2M USD in annual tax revenues, which will help fund schools and other local services, starting next year.  The center is estimated to cut nearly 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions -- the equivalent of taking 4,500 cars off the road.  It will also save 277,000 barrels of oil and 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

While costs are dropping, solar power costs per kWh remain higher than other forms of alternative energy.  Once that gap closes, expect solar to see an even greater jump in interest.  Until then projects like these will surely continue across the nation, albeit at a slower pace.



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RE: Hurricane Ray
By therealnickdanger on 10/27/2009 2:10:16 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think I said anything about the driver going 5 MPH, most people drive a lot faster than that through parking lots anyway. I'm not sure what planet you live on, but most solar panels weight ~3 lbs per ft^2, not including support structure. Conventional parking spaces are typically 9'x19'. Judging by the shadow cast by the panels in the picture, each array covers 3.5 x 2 parking spots.

(3.5 x 9') x (2 x 19') = 1197ft^2
1197ft^2 x 3lbs = 3591lbs = 1.8 tons (not including support structure)

Yeah, you're right, it probably wouldn't even scratch the paint.

While my hypothetical situation may never happen, if it DID happen, the array would probably fall over to one side since it is supported only by a single centerpost. So it wouldn't likely kill the driver, but some unfortunately sap standing nearby. At the very least, it would crush the just about any car it falls on unless it has a roll cage...

Anyway, going back to what I said in another thread, I think this is a cool idea, making good use of the space. In fact, if I ever build a car-port, I may just do it using panels. I just hope my wife doesn't crash into it while doing her makeup. LOL


RE: Hurricane Ray
By stromgald30 on 10/27/2009 4:12:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't think I said anything about the driver going 5 MPH, most people drive a lot faster than that through parking lots anyway.

Yeah, people usually go faster than 5 mph, and no, you never said anything about 5 mph. I was giving an example, not trying to infer a speed into your argument. I'm just saying that it looks like they can take some small hits. You can't design for everything, and if it's up to current standards for steel lamp posts, it's hard to argue for more.

quote:
Yeah, you're right, it probably wouldn't even scratch the paint.

Sheesh, talk about blatantly putting words in people's mouths. I never said anything about it doing very little damage. I said that it's less dangerous to someone in a car than hitting a lamp post. It isn't just the weight, but the area that it would be spread over. That's why IMO the lamppost will more likely hurt someone who drives into it.


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