October 17, 2009 – Vol.14 No.30
SOLAR POWERED MANUFACTURING.
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News
Generating solar power and using it may be out of sync.
For the most part business and industry, and the people employed by them, work in daylight hours. Much of the “living” people do is when the Sun is rising, setting, or gone over the horizon. The Sun does its work when people do and sets when people relax. More than concentrating efforts on building solar energy capacity for general consumption, why not build more solar capacity that’s aimed at powering industries whose work coincides with the hours that the Sun is in the sky?
Large photovoltaic arrays have been installed on office buildings, supermarkets, warehouses, terminal buildings and big box stores for years. Those installations have helped business owners reduce their electric demands from the grid while supplying them, at least in part, with clean electricity. Yet, outside of the solar cell and module industry there are not as many stories of manufacturing firms adding solar power to help power production processes.
Maybe solar powered manufacturing will be the next wave of new solar installations. If that happens Plastic Package, of Sacramento, California, will be one of the pioneers. The company is now using solar power to form virgin and recycled plastic into products. When complete its 208 kilowatt solar system will handle all of Plastic Package’s peak demand and assist its local power provider, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in reducing its summer peak loads during the hottest part of the day.
For the system, Plastic Package chose cylindrical thin film solar panels from Solyndra. The cylindrical solar modules capture light from all angles as the Sun arcs across the sky. The modules also collect solar rays that bounce off the company’s white roof to complete a 360 degree solar collection surface. The cylindrical shape, with modules spaced apart, also aids in cooling the panels with roof top breezes for better efficiency. The Solyndra solar cylinders employ CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) solar photovoltaic technology.
The Plastic Package system is the largest cylindrical thin film solar system west of New Jersey and was installed by Premier Power Renewable Energy. Premier Power is a provider of solar power systems for small to large commercial, agricultural, utility, municipality and government applications.
Going solar also adds an additional shade of greenness for Plastic Package, as does using recycled plastic.
“The plastics business is not normally thought of as a green business”, said Jim Kaye,Plastic Package Inc.’s Chairman, “but we are making major strides in that direction by using recycled soda bottles as well as bio-based materials in our products. Now that we’ve added solar, we want to let the community and our clients know, so they can feel comfortable that when they use our packaging, they are part of the sustainable process”.
The Solyndra solar system will handle all of Plastic Package’s peak demand
Solar energy systems installed on the roofs of businesses that only operate 5 days a week could also be supplying power to grid on weekends and holidays. Those two days of power sold to the grid could help reduce system costs while being a new source of clean power to be consumed by relaxing employees at home.
Plastic Package specializes in the design and production of plastic containers for food products, including chocolate confections, agricultural and baked goods, as well as products for the medical, electronic and retail industries.
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