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Solar farm is producing energy

SunEdison’s photovoltaic solar farm just outside Lexington is now online and providing 4 megawatts of generation capacity to Charlotte-based Duke Energy, which is buying the farm’s entire output under a 20-year contract.

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Solar Farm
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Dave Scanzoni, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said the solar farm has been supplying power since the last week in December.

The solar farm will generate more than 6 million kilowatt hours of electricity in the first year of operation. Over 20 years, the farm will generate 115 million kilowatt hours of electricity — enough to power 10,000 average homes for one year. It also will offset more than 225 million pounds of carbon dioxide that otherwise would have been emitted from a traditional coal-burning power plant.

“This first phase represents a major milestone in our overall plan to develop 16 megawatts of solar energy at this site,” said SunEdison President Carlos Domenech in a press release. “Having financed and completed this initial installation, we have mobilized resources for the next phase of the solar farm.”

Construction on the first phase of the project, involving the installation of about 16,000 solar panels, was completed in December at the 356-acre site, which is near New Jersey Church Road and Junior Order Home Road in the Cotton Grove township.

When the project is completed, 64,000 rotating blue and silver solar panels that track the sun’s movement will absorb sunlight and convert it into direct-current electricity, which a device then will convert into alternating-current electricity. A Duke Energy substation near the farm will change the voltage of the AC power before distributing it through power lines.

Scanzoni said Duke Energy’s contract to purchase the 16 megawatts of power the completed project will produce is part of the company’s compliance with North Carolina’s new renewable energy standard, which requires each public electric utility to meet at least 12.5 percent of its North Carolina retail customers’ electricity needs through new renewable energy sources or energy efficiency measures by 2021. The utility provider needs to sell 12,000 megawatt hours of solar energy per year by 2010 and 10 times that amount by 2018.

Beltsville, Md.-based SunEdison, North America’s largest solar energy services provider, was acquired in November by a larger company, MEMC Electronic Materials, a global producer of silicon wafers for the semiconductor and solar industries for the past 50 years. The solar energy provider continues to operate with the SunEdison name as a subsidiary of MEMC.

Category/ies:Solar Tech.
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