Fifty PV systems are being installed in seven cities around the state. Seven-to-eight small systems will be installed on one distribution line in each city. Sites were identified based on a number of environmental parameters. Selecting cities around the state will allow evaluation of a variety of conditions such as temperature, cloud cover and solar intensity.
EPRI will monitor each module's power output and sunlight input at one- second intervals for the entire 18 months to determine how much electricity they generate and how well they perform under diverse weather conditions. The panels will remain in place at the end of the project and Georgia Power will continue to monitor long-term results. This research will help to:
——Identify the effects, if any, on operation of Georgia Power's distribution system
——Understand the feasibility of widespread solar PV installations on distribution lines
——Determine ranges for overall PV performance in Georgia
——Characterize and compare variable issues such as passing clouds
Each panel is about 3-by-5 feet in size, and able to generate about 200 watts of electricity.
"An installation of this size will not create a noticeable increase in the amount of energy on our distribution system," says Scott Gentry, Georgia Power's distributed generation services project manager and coordinator for this project. "However, the data we collect from each module will provide useful information on PV generation as it relates to the utilities grid."
PV panels have been installed in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Rome, Savannah and Valdosta. EPRI will own the panels.
Solar power uses PV cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. When sunlight strikes a PV cell, electrons are dislodged, creating an electrical current.
Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI also provides technology, policy and economic analyses to drive long-range research and development planning, and supports research in emerging technologies. EPRI's members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.