Robins has time and again been considered as a pioneer in testing alternative energy technologies. Recently they have installed a solar panel which is a matter of curiosity. Their installed solar panel assumes the dimensions of a drive-in-movie screen. It is the shining example of the state-of-the-art technology. At peak hour it generates 25 kilowatts of electricity.
Around $434,000 was invested to construct this solar panel and it was made possible by using special congressional funding for renewable energy sources. The Air Force’s Advanced Power Technology Office installed this solar panel. The office is situated at Robins. Robert David is an engineering supervisor and head of the APTO office. According to him the solar panel is the first of its kind in the Southeast.
What make this solar panel matchless are its sensors. The sensor technology tracks the sun automatically. Its concentrated photovoltaic array technology amplifies the sun’s power 500 to 1,000 times. For accomplishing the above feat they have taken help of the magnifying glasses. It is interesting to know that it essentially uses the similar know-how that little boys use to kill ants. This solar panel is able to trap 38 percent of the energy of sunlight. Scott Slyfield, APTO program manager says, If that sounds low, consider that earlier solar panels captured only about eight percent of the sun’s energy.”
The remunerations related with this technology are many. These solar panels have an estimated life of 25 years and it will keep on generating the 25 kilowatts of electricity. Consider this amount of that it produces will practically be free, aside from a minimal electricity nearly cost free except the money involved in the maintenance work. However this electricity will still be expensive compared to that generated by fossil fuels. But this price front can be tackled if the Air Force decides to purchase solar panels on a larger scale. This will help in reducing the upfront cost. If you erect a solar farm it will be easy on any organization’s pocket.
Currently the power generated by this solar panel will be utilized directly by the base power grid. But they have plans to compensate that power used by a newly-installed hydrogen fuel production/refueling station.
The station is near the solar panel. This hydrogen power station generates 10 kilograms of hydrogen per day using water. This clean and green hydrogen is used to fuel two base forklifts with hydrogen fuel cells. The APTO office is counting on the Congressional funding then the solar panel and hydrogen station would make a good dual project.
Currently the solar panel is installed for a one year trial basis. The base can decide to keep it after that year. The operational aspect of the solar panel is being taken care of by a computer. This solar panel can boast of its own weather station. If the weather is windy the panel will automatically stow, returning to a flat position. This position of panel will help it in protecting itself. It will even track the sun and produce energy, albeit at a lower level, on a cloudy day.