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Choate, Bell Labs to Meet Energy Needs with Solar

Choate Construction Company has installed a Solyndra 74-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) energy system at its headquarters building in Atlanta, Georgia. The new rooftop solar array will provide between five to ten percent of the building’s energy demand.

The solar project, installed by Empower Energy Technology and owned by Choate, is touted as the largest in the Southeast. Empower Energy Technology designed the rooftop system for Choate using advanced technology solar panels from Solyndra, which use cylindrical modules that capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity.

Because the tubular design of a Solyndra module is “self-tracking” and collects light around a 360-degree surface, it captures more light early and late in the day, enabling the use of a smaller inverter(s), according to the company.

“Solyndra’s cylindrical module system allows us to overcome certain installation challenges that a conventional crystalline PV module and mounting system create,” said Mark Bell, president of Empower Energy, in a statement.

“Unlike conventional PV modules, Solyndra’s cylindrical modules will capture both direct and reflected sunlight from the white, TPO surface of the new Northridge Plaza roof, turning it into clean electricity to be used by the building occupants,” he added.

In New Jersey, Bell Labs, the R&D arm of Alcatel-Lucent, plans to install a 1.2-megawatt ground-mounted solar power system at its headquarters campus in Murray Hill, N.J. The system is expected to be operational next spring.

SunPower will design and install the solar array system using SunPower T0 Trackers, which will position more than 3,700 solar panels to follow the sun’s movement during the day. The trackers increase sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems and reduce land use requirements, according to the company.

The SunPower system, occupying six acres of the 200-acre site, will generate approximately $2.5 million in cost savings over the next 15 years.

ConEdison plans to develop the project through an engineering, procuring and construction agreement with SunPower. ConEdison Development will own and operate the system, while SunPower will design and build it.

ConEdison Development will also own the solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) and environmental benefits associated with the system.

In addition to its contract with SunPower, ConEdison Development will execute two contracts with Alcatel-Lucent. The first is a power purchase agreement under which Alcatel-Lucent agrees to purchase energy from ConEdison Development over a 15-year period.

Under the second contract, ConEdison Development leases the land for the installation from Alcatel-Lucent for 15 years. Alcatel-Lucent, which pays no upfront costs for the installation, also will get below retail pricing for the electricity thanks to the state’s solar incentive program.

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