Monday, June 1, 2009

Georgia Power Launches Solar Research Project

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power's corporate headquarters will begin harnessing the sun in 2009 as the company partners with Southern Company to launch a rooftop solar demonstration program aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy in Georgia.

Adding to the building's energy-efficient construction and architecture, Georgia Power has begun installing seven different commercially viable photovoltaic (PV) panels on its roof to test which solar technologies perform best with Georgia's weather patterns and climate.

The project, funded by Southern Company and Georgia Power, will generate cost and performance data of leading solar technologies and will assist customers interested in purchasing photovoltaic panels for their own homes or businesses. The project will collect data from the panels for a minimum of one year.

Energy generated by the PV panels will partially offset the electricity needs of Georgia Power's corporate headquarters. Each test technology will be capable of producing approximately four kilowatts. Four of the solar technologies have been installed, while the remaining technologies will be implemented as they become available.

"We continue to explore ways to increase our renewable-energy portfolio," said Ervan Hancock, manager of renewable and green strategies. "This solar research project will provide us with valuable data on a small scale of some of the leading-edge solar technologies on the market. What we learn from this project will undoubtedly give better insight into actual performance and economics to further the consideration of solar energy in Georgia."

Georgia Power designed and constructed its corporate headquarters in the 1980s with energy efficiency in mind. The building boasts environmentally friendly features such as:

-- Cantilevered architectural design that allows for the floor above to
shade the windows on the floor below. Aluminum tubes on each floor
indention also aid in reducing solar heat.
-- Heavily insulated windows on the east and west sides of the building
to further reduce solar heat.
-- Fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts for interior lighting.
-- A 300,000 gallon water storage system that chills water at night
during off-peak electrical demand then runs the chilled water through
a heat exchanger during the day to help cool the building.

The company also recently expanded its Green Energy program to include a premium option that allows customers to purchase renewable energy - 2 percent of which is solar - at a cost of $4.50 per 100-kilowatt-hour block. This solar research project will augment Georgia Power's existing renewable energy strategy.

The company plans to make the solar demonstration production data available to the public via an interactive kiosk that will be set up in the lobby of the corporate headquarters. The kiosk will provide real-time information and up-to-date results, along with Web data. Georgia Power will work with an independent consultant to evaluate the performance of each technology and may consider expanding the project at the end of the evaluation stage.

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