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All-solar blog round up

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/18/11 @ 1:58pm

· Look, there! Up in Glenville, birthplace of Superman, you'll find another Cleveland invention with the power to melt steel, and which appears to be from another planet. The StarGen Solar Concentrator sounds far out, but an array of 20 parabolic mirrors on the grounds of Rockefeller Greenhouse are beaming concentrated (up to 900 times their usual strength) solar rays to 3,840 tiny solar cells on t-shape collectors to produce renewable energy for the greenhouse.

In July, Cleveland Public Power installed the concentrators, which were manufactured by Oberlin's GreenField Solar, a start-up of Bernard Sater, a former NASA Glenn Research Center scientist who invented the system. The cost of the demonstration project is $250,000, and it generates between 20,000 and 30,000 watts, most of the greenhouse's power during the summer. The concentrators, which can track the sun like radar dishes all day long, also produce a lot of hot water-250,000 BTUs per hour, which will supply the heat during the winter into new heaters in one of the greenhouses.

· Speaking of tiny solar cells, the University of Michigan solar car made an appearance at last night's Green Wade Oval Wednesday. The sleek yellow racer zips along at 60 mph on 100% solar power produced by 200 tiny photovoltaic (PV) cells mounted on its surface. With the solar-powered battery switched on, it tops out at 110 mph, according to five of the 100-crew team who raced it and took top prize in the U.S. solar car competition. This was the retired car; they are building a new one that will compete in the 1,800 mile World Solar Challenge across the outback of Australia in October. The solar cells produce 2.3 kilowatts of power, but at $1.2 million to produce, it might be a while before you spot a solar-powered car at your local dealer.

· AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power, signed an agreement with Turning Point Solar to develop a $250 million solar power plant in Noble County, 20 miles southeast of Zanesville, Ohio, that will produce 49.9 megawatts of renewable power.

The solar farm-announced by then-Gov. Ted Strickland last October-will be built on 750 acres of a former coal strip-mining operation. Construction and commercial operation of the facility will be phased in over three years with construction expected to begin in summer 2012.

Isofoton, a Spanish solar company, will supply the modules. Part of the agreement of the project moving forward was the company agreed to base its North American manufacturing facility in Ohio. Isofoton plans to invest $16.4 million in Ohio and will receive assistance to the tune of $15.8 million, according to Columbus Business First.

· Meanwhile, the Toledo Blade reports in "PUCO allows FirstEnergy to miss solar requirement" that Northeast Ohio's energy supplier avoided a $1.2 million penalty for failure to comply with the solar portion of the Ohio's Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard. Instead of paying the fine, the company was granted a waiver. "FirstEnergy has said it doesn't want to produce solar power, and told state regulators it couldn't find enough investment credits to purchase from solar developers in 2009 or 2010."

· Fifty years after Akron native Stanford R. Ovshinsky started his first company, based on his invention for an automatic lathe, the octegenarian has launched his latest venture, Ovshinsky Solar, LLC to accelerate his work in energy and information that will lead to basic solutions for pollution, climate change gases and wars over oil. His objective now is to make photovoltaics at a lower cost than burning fossil fues. Ovshinsky speaks at the City Club of Cleveland on September 23.

· The Ohio Department of Development announced last week that it has approved more than $1.1 million for advanced-energy jobs training. The Energizing Careers Program grants will go to ten Ohio companies ? none of which are in Cuyahoga County-to assist in training workers in advanced energy technologies, including wind, solar and biomass.

· The Climate Change exhibit at Cleveland Museum of Natural History features a "Solutions" area where it proclaims, "Clean energy is key to solving climate change." On solar power, you can find interesting facts, like Every hour, the sun provides Earth with as much energy as the world uses in an entire year. And cool case studies like the 260 million euro Andasol Project in Granada, Spain which is producing 100 megawatts of power with massive solar concentrators that heat liquid salts in pipes to 727 degrees F and use that to turn turbines-it produces as much power as a small coal plant, without the emissions.

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