Energy Department Goes Solar | September 15, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 37 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 37 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 15, 2008

Energy Department Goes Solar

Using solar panels on its headquarters' roof, DOE is now generating some of its own electricity
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Climate Change, Sustainability
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Credit: Jeff Johnson/C&EN
Credit: Jeff Johnson/C&EN

PHOTOVOLTAIC SOLAR panels able to generate 205 kW of maximum electricity output began operating last week on the roof of the Department of Energy's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The installation, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman says, will help the department meet a national goal of generating 7.5% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

In all, 891 230-W solar panels are now on the roof of the building, covering 15,000 sq ft. The panels will provide an average of 1% of the electricity needs of the DOE headquarters complex and can supply up to 8% of the complex's electricity under optimum conditions, DOE officials say.

DOE's photovoltaic installation is one of the largest in the Washington area, Bodman says, but it is small compared with several recent private projects, reflecting a new wave of interest in solar power.

An inventory of projects provided by SunPower, the manufacturer of DOE's solar panels, shows both JCPenney and Wal-Mart are installing rooftop solar panels that will produce twice DOE's wattage at each of more than a dozen of their U.S. retail stores. Also, in California, Pacific Gas & Electric announced contracts to buy some 800 MW of electricity generated by ground-level photovoltaic panels.

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