North Carolina Solar Center

solar panels
Strata Solar

Duke Energy is investing $500 million in solar power generation in North Carolina.

Three new large-scale solar facilities will be built in Bladen, Wilson, and Duplin Counties. The 65 megawatt facility in Duplin will be the largest solar plant east of the Mississippi.

Due to a state law passed in 2007, Duke and other utilities must source at least 12.5 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

“We choose solar today because solar is the cheapest renewable energy certificate available to us,” said Duke Energy Vice President Rob Caldwell.

A picture of a man charging an electric car.
David Dodge / Green Energy Futures via Creative Commons

As more alternative fuel vehicles take to the roadways, North Carolina is working to prepare first responders how to react when they're part of an emergency.

The NC Solar Center has worked with the State Fire Marshall's office to develop a workshop for emergency services personnel in the Triangle. Soon, responders in other parts of the state will be able to complete the training online. They'll learn to identify gas, biofuel and battery-operated vehicles.

A solar panel, renewable energy
NCSU/CSE

Renewable energy generators have channeled hundreds of millions of kilowatt hours into the North Carolina power grid. That's since the NC GreenPower program was founded 10 years ago.

The initiative collects donations from companies, citizens and utility customers to buy renewable energy and diversify the state's power grid.

NC Solar Center Director Steve Kalland is on the board for NC GreenPower. He said the program has also helped utilities warm up to renewable power providers. 

NCSU students study an array of solar panels on top of the NSF FREEDM Systems Center.
Marc Hall / North Carolina State University

The North Carolina Solar Center has become the fifth lab in the country approved to test solar hot water panels to the market standard.

The federal government requires home solar water heating systems to have Solar Rating and Certification Corporation—or SRCC—certification in order to be eligible for a 30-percent tax credit.

The Center has also been recently accredited to test efficiency and calibrate panels according to international standards.

NCSU students study an array of solar panels on top of the NSF FREEDM Systems Center.
Marc Hall / North Carolina State University

Raleigh might soon have a group-purchasing program that would make it cheaper for residents to install solar panels on their homes. North Carolina Solar Center Director Steve Kalland  says solar power is popular among state utilities. They save money buying the costly technology in bulk. Kalland says homeowners are also interested in using cheaper, greener energy.

"The opportunity to do this has been somewhat constrained in North Carolina because the cost of these smaller-scale projects is somewhat higher than the large-scale projects," Kalland says.

One of Progress Energy's solar energy farms.
Duke Energy/Progress Energy

North Carolina’s solar energy industry has garnered much success in recent years – from solar panels to solar farms. 

The 'Chevy Volt' is one of the more popular 'Plug-in' electric vehicles in North Carolina.
Leoneda Inge

A new readiness plan aims to help the state of North Carolina prepare for hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in the next decade.  The state’s first Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) readiness plan was created through the 'NC PEV Readiness Initiative: Plugging-in from Mountains to Sea (M2S).' 

Experts on solar energy are converging in Raleigh today for a conference designed to help expand the development of new technology. Siemens Industry is partnering with the North Carolina Solar Center for "Solar Exchange East" at North Carolina State University. Stephen Kalland is Executive Director for the North Carolina Solar Center. He says the conference will cover a number of issues.