The state utility company started installing small solar panels, producing about 200 watts of power each in strings along different distribution lines.
“The goal is tow-fold, actually,” said Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright. “First, Georgia is a really geographically diverse. We have the mountainous regions, where winter temperatures get really cold. And then we have the coastal areas with humidity, and Georgia has been called the pollen capital of the world.”
Georgia Power hopes to find out how those geographical differences impact energy production with solar photovoltaic installations.
"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."
The Georgia Power Research Institute is eager to understand where solar will work best, Boatright said.
“The other thing we’re trying to do,” Boatright said, “is to see how the solar inputs will affect the distribution lines.”
Distribution has been a major issue and discussion topic in the renewable energy industry for years. It’s been named one of the biggest challenges in the renewable-energy revolution.
Georgia Power’s project will test its individual distribution lines and help the company see and better understand how the solar panels impact the distribution lines.
“They will monitor it,” Boatright said of the power research department, “and determine what degree of development and what would be involved in creating new solar systems.”
She said the research institute does work to determine ways of increasing the efficiency of solar cells and panels, and can use the data form this project to determine new ways of developing solar.
The installation of the 50 panels is part of an 18-month research period, though the panels will remain after the research period, and Georgia Power will continue to monitor the system and evaluate the data, Boatright said.
Image courtesy of atlantadowntown.com.