Solar panel testing under way in Augusta

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They won't make many kilowatts, but a series of experimental solar panels erected in Augusta will aid scientists working to perfect new technology to convert sunlight into electricity.

Georgia Power is using new panels to test solar performance in Augusta.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Georgia Power is using new panels to test solar performance in Augusta.

"Seven panels were put up in the North Leg area, each 3 feet by 5 feet," said Carol Boatright, a spokeswoman for Georgia Power Co. "Augusta is one of seven locations in the state where they are being tested."

The 18-month trial is a joint effort with the Electric Power Research Institute aimed at testing the effect of various climates and environmental conditions on the solar photovoltaic power systems.

"The test locations are all over the state," Boatright said. "Some places have high humidity and there are salt air breezes on the coast. The mountainous areas have cleaner air but colder temperatures and more freezing."

The effects of seasonal changes, including the onslaught of spring pollen, also will be evaluated.

Besides Augusta, the panels are also being installed in Rome, Valdosta, Macon, Columbus, Savannah and Conley.

Each panel, under optimum conditions and full sun, can generate about 200 watts of electricity.

"So in each city they can produce, maybe, 1,000 to 1,400 watts when everything is working right, which is enough to power an average home for about an hour," she said.

The panels can convert sunlight into energy and feed it directly onto the distribution lines near the Georgia Power facility off Bobby Jones Expressway.

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