On Monday, the industry arrives in Orlando for Solar Power International, an annual event to exchange business information and bright ideas. But the convention center has been a solar hotspot for some time — it’s home to an $8-million project dedicated to solar technology and climate change.
One of the Orange County Convention Center solar project’s key features is a 1-MW rooftop array with 5,808 panels. Several “experimental” photovoltaic systems and a climate change education center round out the project. The additional photovoltaic systems include thermal, thin film, microinverter and bi-facial (see pictures to right).
SPI organizers say the existence of the solar arrays helped guide their decision on where to hold this year’s exhibition.
“Being in a facility that is, in part, powered by solar is a great opportunity and, of course, a symbol of our commitment,” says Julia Hamm, president and CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association, or SEPA. “We salute the Orange County Convention Center for the investment they’ve made.”
Florida-based Solar Source installed the rooftop array, which is made up of 175-watt monocrystalline silicon panels by SolarWorld, in 2010. During its first 12 months of operation, the system exceeded estimates on energy production by more than 18%, totaling 1,523,436 kWh, according to the convention center. The center estimates a return on investment for the $3.9 million array (after incentives) in 10 to 12 years.
But how’s the array’s production capacity today? Fat Spaniel Technologies, which Power-One recently acquired, created a (very cool and worth going to) live environmental and solar conditions web portal for the convention center. Online monitoring such as this has become a requisite piece of solar arrays, with some companies offering monitoring services at no additional cost.
The public portal, a screen shot of which is below, includes statistics for the 1-MW array and all four of the smaller arrays. It also contains production graphs, a weather station and information that puts energy savings in terms of cars taken off the road – a favorite stat for communications to the public. The portal also includes an interactive feature on how solar systems work.
On the roof of the convention center, SPI personnel are guiding tours of the 1-MW solar array during the show as follows:
Monday, Sept. 10 – 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 11 – 9:30 – 11:00 a.m., 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 12 – 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13 – 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
On a personal note: The entire Solar Power World team will be on-site in Orlando providing coverage of sessions, new technology and new business every day. Stop by our booth, No. 1789, and pick up the latest edition of the magazine and receive information about our Top Solar Contractors list. We look forward to seeing you there!