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: Four problems the revamped Google should tackle now it's free to innovate

Related Stories

Labs team to build new solar optics system

August 5, 2015

The University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute and Dallas-based Skyven Technologies have been awarded a National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research program grant to build and test a Phase 1 prototype ...

Recommended for you

Schlieren images reveal supersonic shock waves

August 27, 2015

NASA researchers in California are using a modern version of a 150-year-old German photography technique to capture images of shock waves created by supersonic airplanes. Over the past five years scientists from NASA's Armstrong ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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

Really cost effective installation!
Soylent
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.