OAK RIDGE – Members of a partnership between a German solar panel manufacturer, the German government and a Tennessee-based solar panel company installed a new solar panel installation in Oak Ridge.
The Heritage Center in Oak Ridge played a key role in the birth of the atomic bomb, which builders say is why it's so fitting as a location for their new solar project.
"From nuclear to solar," said managing partner Carlos Mayer. "That's the way we want it."
Solar energy that will come from a new breed of panels that track the sun throughout the day to absorb the maximum amount of energy.
The panels are expected to generate 40% more energy than fixed solar panels.
"It's a very small showcase project of only 50 kilowatts, but it's a beginning for thinking about energy change," said Mayer.
"With our partnership with the Oak Ridge National Lab and our partners here, we will be able to measure just how much more powerful this solar technology is versus previous generations of solar technology," said managing partner Tim Hayes.
Seven units will be constructed with 30 panels each. They will be able to make enough energy to power 15 average family homes. If successful, they will eventually power even more homes, providing more efficient and affordable energy.
Not only is it a source of new energy, but also a source of new jobs.
"This will involve local workers and jobs," said Hayes. "We have some folks from Roane State Community College that are being trained on how to install this technology in other locations in the future."
Vis Solis, Latin for the power of the sun, is the company behind the project. It's a leading developer of solar power plants.
The German Energy Agency and several other private and public entities helped fund the project. They hope this will only be the first of many like it that will eventually change the way East Tennessee gets its power.
The project is expected to be complete in March of 2013.