Solar Energy

EPA Air Monitor Bench
Leoneda Inge

The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a new way to monitor air pollution and it includes a park bench.  There’s a new bench outside the South Regional Public Library in Durham . It’s the only one of its kind in the country.  If you sit down – and look up – you see solar panels and a spinning wind sensor.  And you can use your smart phone to scan a QR barcode to get up to the minute air quality stats.

Nkonzo Mhnongo of South Africa
Leoneda Inge

For years, Raleigh has worked hard to transform itself into a city of environmental sustainability and innovation.  The capital city even created an Office of Sustainability and has been recognized nationally as a leader in the field.

A group of visitors from several countries in Africa are on a three week tour of the United States and stopped by Raleigh to see some of the city’s “green” transformation first-hand.

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. 

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

The North Carolina utility company Progress Energy is among the nations leaders in solar production. Last year the utility company produced almost 70 megawatts of new solar generating capacity. The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) says that’s the 8th highest output of all U.S. utility companies.

solar panels
Strata Solar

A North Carolina renewable energy company says it plans to build a large solar farm in Duplin County.  Strata Solar announced yesterday it's developing 400 acres of land for solar panels with a capacity of 100 Megawatts.  It's one of the largest solar farms in production on the east coast.  Strata CEO Markus Wilhelm says his company will file its plans with the state Utilities Commission by the end of the month.

Dominion North Carolina Power plans to study the prospect of wind and solar energy on the Outer Banks for small-scale power grids.  The utility is launching a three-year research project at its office in Kitty Hawk. The plans include four wind turbines, solar panels and a storage battery that will work to reduce the amount of power the office pulls from the grid.  Project manager Sarah Cosby says that network creates a so-called micro-grid that could be useful for small communities during power outages.

A North Carolina research firm says it's taken a significant step toward making solar energy a widely-marketable source of electricity. RTI International says its new solar cells use an ink-like material produced at much lower cost than traditional silicon panels. Jay Lewis is a senior research scientist with the RTP nonprofit.

Mayberry Solar Farm in Mt. Airy

Mt. Airy is now the site of a 1.2 megawatt solar farm capable of producing power to the equivalent of about 150 homes per year. John Morrison is Chief Operating Oficer for Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar.

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.

A Durham company is planning to build a plant in Henderson that will produce one-of-a-kind solar modules.