ORNL goes solar with 288-foot span of panels

January 23, 2009 Frank Munger, The Knoxville News Sentinel, Tenn.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory wants its energy operations to be as advanced as its energy research.

"It's the right thing to do, but it also gives us a test-bed to demonstrate in a real-world sense the viability of these solutions," ORNL Director Thom Mason said Thursday, soon after dedicating a new solar array that is the second largest in Tennessee and will provide more than 50 kilowatts of power to the lab's energy grid.

The energy produced by the 288-foot stretch of solar panels along Bethel Valley Road will offset nearly half the power use in one of ORNL's nearby research facilities and expand a green initiative known as the "sustainable campus" project.

Dana Christensen, an associate lab director, said ORNL is pushing a regional effort to broaden use of renewable energy sources, including solar, by demonstrating the possibilities.

The Oak Ridge lab hosted a solar summit last year to kick-start the initiative, coinciding with Gov. Phil Bredesen's program to lure alternative energy companies to Tennessee.

"Solar power is a force to be reckoned with here in the South," Christensen said.

Lightwave Solar installed the lab's solar array as part of a $500,000 contract, according to Melissa Lapsa, who heads the sustainable campus program at ORNL.

Lapsa said the laboratory is looking to integrate the latest and greatest energy technology.

As part of that program, the lab earlier awarded an $89 million contract to Johnson Controls. The biggest project will be a new steam plant that's fueled by burning wood chips instead of coal.

"We have unparalleled capabilities for meeting the nation's energy challenges, but we also have the opportunity and the responsibility to lead by example," Mason said.

"If it's going to be real, we should be proving that ourselves."

© 2009 MCT

Explore further: Asteroids found to be the moon's main 'water supply'

Related Stories

Asteroids found to be the moon's main 'water supply'

October 1, 2015

Water reserves found on the moon are the result of asteroids acting as "delivery vehicles" and not of falling comets as was previously thought. Using computer simulation, scientists from MIPT and the RAS Geosphere Dynamics ...

How much energy does NYC waste?

September 29, 2015

New York is the most wasteful megacity in the world according to a 2015 report on the per capita energy consumption of 27 global megacities.

Regular dusting bolsters solar panel performance

September 23, 2015

Perth residents who are the proud custodians of solar panels could boost the amount of power that the arrays produce over an extended period of time by simply removing dust particles from the panels.

Clean tech a top priority as Chinese president lands in US

September 22, 2015

Discussing how U.S. and Chinese experts and businesses can collaborate on nuclear energy, smarter electricity use and other clean technologies is a top agenda item as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Seattle Tuesday, ...

The moon

September 21, 2015

Look up in the night sky. On a clear night, if you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of the moon shining in all it's glory. As Earth's only satellite, the moon has orbited our planet for over three and a half billion years. ...

Recommended for you

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

October 8, 2015

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.

University team's robot inspired by jumping spider

October 8, 2015

Special insights and observations about how animals move, handle danger and preserve energy are not only interesting but valuable to scientists in the field of robotics. One such contribution of animal-like robotic movement ...

AI machine achieves IQ test score of young child

October 6, 2015

Some people might find it enough reason to worry; others, enough reason to be upbeat about what we can achieve in computer science; all await the next chapters in artificial intelligence to see what more a machine can do ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.5 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2009
Amazing what they can find to spend OUR money on, ain't it?
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 24, 2009
$500,000/50,000 peak Watts = $10/Watt MINIMUM

Really cost effective installation!
not rated yet Jan 24, 2009
$500,000/50,000 peak Watts = $10/Watt MINIMUM

Really cost effective installation!

~$50/Watt average. Capacity factor rarely gets much above 20% for solar; you can get about 26% in California, but that's practically a desert.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.