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Alcatel-Lucent to Host Solar Power System for Bell Labs Global Headquarters

published: 2010-11-05 14:53

In 1954, Bell Labs pioneered the development of solar power technology, creating solar panels able to support the telephone service of American farmers living off the electricity grid.  Today, more than 50 years later, Alcatel-Lucent - in conjunction with SunPower Corp. and ConEdison Development (CED) - announced that a 1.2-megawatt ground-mounted solar power system will be installed at the company's Bell Labs headquarters campus in Murray Hill, N.J.  The system is expected to be operational next spring.

SunPower will design and install the solar array system using SunPower T0 Trackers, which will position more than 3,700 solar panels to follow the sun's movement during the day. The trackers increase sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems while significantly reducing land use requirements.  

The SunPower system at the Bell Labs campus, occupying six acres of the 200-acre site, will generate approximately $2.5 million in cost savings over the next 15 years.  It will be surrounded by decorative fencing and landscaping that will include a variety of mostly native, hardy, deer-resistant trees, bushes and perennials and has been designed to provide color and visual interest throughout the year.  

"We are excited about this solar power system because Bell Labs pioneered research on solar technology, so this connects Bell Labs to our past, while looking to the future," said Jeong Kim, president of Bell Labs.  "Alcatel-Lucent has made a serious commitment to environmental sustainability, and this is one step we are taking to honor that commitment.  We are working on ways to help our customers operate their own networks with more sustainable technology, which is the focus of a great deal of research at Bell Labs.  Alternative energy can provide a sustainable way to power communications systems, and give people access to the benefits of modern communications technology even if they have no access to power grids.  This solar power system will give us some hands-on experience with its capabilities."

The solar panels developed by Bell Labs in 1954 could generate 50 watts per square yard of surface, enough power to provide telephone service to a 1950s farming family.  The panels developed and supplied by SunPower will each generate 318 watts, with the total 1.2-megawatt system generating the equivalent amount of power for more than 200 average New Jersey homes on an annual basis.  

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the system will offset the production of more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 30-year lifetime, equivalent to removing more than 8,500 cars from New Jersey's highways.  

ConEdison Development, a Valhalla, NY-based subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. that develops energy sources, plans to develop the project through an engineering, procuring and construction agreement with SunPower.  ConEdison Development will own and operate the system, while SunPower will design and build it. ConEdison Development will also own the solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) and environmental benefits associated with the system.

"Solar power makes good sense today for utilities, businesses and homes in New Jersey, and is complemented by attractive incentives provided by the state," said Jim Pape, president of SunPower's residential and commercial business group.  "SunPower's turnkey services and reliable solar technology maximize the production of emission-free, abundant solar power and the long-term benefits it delivers.  We congratulate ConEdison Development and Alcatel-Lucent for their leadership."

"Around the country and the world, forward-looking corporations are bolstering their commitment to the environment by turning to renewable energy sources," said Mark Noyes, vice president of ConEdison Development.  "With the help of incentives provided by the State of New Jersey, Alcatel-Lucent is setting an outstanding example for the business community by supporting non-polluting solar power.  We are proud to be working in collaboration with SunPower – one of the world's foremost suppliers of solar energy systems – to help Alcatel-Lucent fulfill its admirable commitment to sustainability."

In addition to its contract with SunPower, ConEdison Development will execute two contracts with Alcatel-Lucent.  The first is a power purchase agreement under which Alcatel-Lucent agrees to purchase energy from ConEdison Development over a 15-year period.  Under the second contract, ConEdison Development leases the land for the installation from Alcatel-Lucent for 15 years.  Alcatel-Lucent, which assumes no upfront costs for the installation, will buy the electricity at prices considerably below retail rates in part because of a State of New Jersey incentive program that encourages development and usage of solar power.

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