Saturday, 25 January 2014

Orlando Welcomes 1st Community Solar Farm

solar farm

 

As the world continues to face problems such and climate change and fossil fuel shortages, finding and implementing alternative energies becomes increasingly important. All over the United States a new type of power plant is popping up: the solar farm. Most recently, Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) welcomed the first solar farm to Central Florida and are now building a community solar farm. So what exactly is a solar farm and what are the implications for the areas economy and carbon footprint? This article will explain all of that and more.

What is a Solar Farm?

When most people hear the phrase solar farm, they are left in a complete state of confusion.  A solar farm is a large group or array of solar panels built to collect the suns energy and turn it into usable electricity for the everyday person.  Solar farms are currently being built large enough to power over 20,000 homes.

How it Works

One may ask, “How this is achieved with certain places not getting full sunlight all year?” A common misconception is that the solar panel at a farm or even on your own roof will directly power the appliances and electronics in your home.  On the contrary this power is actually supplied to the electric grid and then credited toward your bill at the end of each billing cycle.
Much of the power collected by a solar array happens during the afternoon when the sun is at a peak point in the sky.  Most people are working during the day and not using electricity.  Therefore a lot of potential energy absorbed by the solar panel would be wasted.  So, instead, this power is sent back to the electric grid for those who are pulling power to utilize.

Orlando’s Community Solar Farm

With the new community solar farm, consumers have the ability to purchase some of the panels to get a return on their investment for cheap power.  This new project offers 500 kW of power and people are already signing up to purchase the solar power.  Many of these solar arrays have a dual purpose and serve as parking lot canopies and other types of infrastructure.
Solar technology can now be obtained at competitive costs with natural gas and other energy sources.  This means that more and more people will be able to reap the benefits of cheap and clean power in the Orlando area as more of these farms are built.

Who else is doing this?

Utility companies nationwide are adopting solar as a power source.  Solar farms being built in Western Tennessee are boasting 5 mW of power being generated annually.  These farms are popping up all of the country from the West coast the East coast up and down the country.  As the cost of solar power continues to decrease more and more of these farms are being built as a direct power source to utility companies, who in turn will sell it back to the public.  These solar arrays will be able to power hundreds of homes and continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
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This article was written by Nick Quinlan.  Nick graduated from UCF in 2009 with a degree in electrical engineering and works on the side creating content for Bob Heinmiller Solar.

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