Tennessee solar energy developer Vis Solis, Inc. and the German Energy Agency (dena), dedicated its first United States solar project today with the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christoph Sander, TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau and Mayor Tom Beehan at the Heritage Center in Oak Ridge. The project was developed in conjunction with dena and Germany’s leading solar and dual-axis, maximum light detection tracking systems manufacturer, DEGERenergie.
“We are pleased to welcome such an innovative solar project and international partnership to Oak Ridge, a city with a rich history in energy innovation and leadership,” said Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan. “This solar project further boosts Oak Ridge’s reputation as a cutting edge science and technology hub that’s open for business.”
Seven ground-mounted trackers, standing 20 feet in the air, with 28/30 solar panels on each tracker make up the 50 kilowatt photovoltaic solar array installed on the former duct bank at the 1200-acre Heritage Center industrial park owned by the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET). The innovative, maximum light detection technology from DEGERenergie will produce an estimated 40 percent more energy than a traditional ground mounted system or approximately 91,000 kilowatt hours a year.
“Vis Solis is using solar energy to turn an otherwise unusable empty plot of land into an income producing asset for our investors and the community,” said Carlos Mayer, CEO of Vis Solis. Vis Solis oversees the complete engineering, procurement, financing, operation and design of investor-owned solar photovoltaic power plants.
The duct bank is a small area of the Heritage Center that is not suitable for excessive and deep digging that is typical for a traditional construction project, making it ideal for a solar installation.
The Heritage Center solar installation in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the first U.S. partnership in dena’s Solar Roofs Program portfolio. Since 2004, dena has taken part in over 40 solar projects across the globe to bring together rising international interest in German solar technology and help expand global solar markets.
“The selection of Oak Ridge as first American/German Solar location has brought the highest attention to the project: the plurality of stakeholders in the energy sector together with the devotion to move things as well as the business environment with its possibilities to exchange know how are outstanding and so makes it a perfect location for the dena-Solar Roofs Program,” said Jörg Polzer, Head of Renewable Energies, German Energy Agency (dena).
This project is part of the worldwide “dena Solar Roofs Program” coordinated by Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (DENA) - the German Energy Agency - and co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) within the initiative, renewables – Made in Germany.
“Our department is pleased to support and encourage brownfield reuse like this solar installation project at the Heritage Center,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The option of brownfield redevelopment made it possible for sound science, innovative technology and creative partnerships to restore this site for a productive use that benefits the community, while contributing to Tennessee’s clean energy portfolio.”
The Heritage Center Industrial Park is a large industrial complex spawned from the Manhattan Project. This facility was formerly known as the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant (or K-25) and served as a uranium enrichment facility. The site currently serves as the center of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) environmental restoration and waste management activities. In 1996, a Reindustrialization program was launched by DOE and the Oak Ridge community that focused on the reuse of DOE‘s former research and development facilities.
The electricity generated from the solar arrays will go directly to the TVA grid. Vis Solis will sell the electricity to TVA under a 20 year Power Purchase Agreement. The arrays will generate about 91,000 kilowatt hours a year, the equivalent annual energy consumption of about eight average American homes.