University of Georgia
April 2016
Researching alternatives

A one-megawatt solar tracking demonstration project, located on a 10-acre site at UGA, will demonstrate optimal orientation and tracking technology suited for Georgia’s climate and energy demand. (Robert Newcomb/UGA)

Researching alternatives

Georgia Power, UGA advancing solar energy through solar tracking demonstration project.

Fields of solar panels popped out of the ground recently at the University of Georgia. On South Milledge Avenue, acreage that once housed the Red Barn and its surrounding property is now home to a solar tracking demonstration.

The collaboration between Georgia Power and the University of Georgia is designed to both demonstrate and spark advances in solar energy in the state.

In December, Georgia Power leaders joined University of Georgia officials, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and community and business leaders to dedicate the one megawatt project. The demonstration site is located on a 10-acre plot owned by UGA and is the result of a utility/university collaboration.

“Working in coordination with the Georgia Public Service Commission, and through strong relationships with organizations such as UGA, we have positioned Georgia as a national solar leader,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “Now more than ever, it’s essential that we continue to invest in the research and development of new technologies to make solar, and all generation sources, as reliable, efficient and cost-effective for our customers as possible.”

Research will be conducted under a two-year collaboration with UGA researchers, spearheaded by the College of Engineering, to study solar forecasting and the effects of solar panel soiling versus performance. Data analysis and performance reporting will occur through a Georgia Power partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute.

The project will demonstrate optimal orientation and tracking technology suited for Georgia’s climate and energy demand with project partners studying the performance and reliability of various fixed and tracking configurations of five separate sub-arrays.

Georgia Power owns and will operate the facility under a 20-year lease agreement with UGA. Energy produced by the facility will flow to the state’s electric grid to serve customers. UGA will receive the renewable energy credits, or RECs.

“The complex problems facing our world today, such as the need to expand our sources of energy, require not only interdisciplinary efforts but also multi-institutional efforts that involve higher education, private industry, and government,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Solar Tracking Demonstration Project is a perfect example of this type of broad collaboration, and the University of Georgia is pleased to be part of this exciting endeavor.”

Georgia Power’s solar programs, including the Advanced Solar Initiative, are adding thousands of solar panels to Georgia’s energy landscape. Through the ASI and other programs, including new solar projects at four Georgia military bases currently under construction, Georgia Power is developing one of the largest voluntary solar portfolios in the nation. All of the company’s solar resources are being procured at costs designed to prevent upward pressure on customer rates.

In 2015, the company introduced a separate, unregulated solar sales and installation service administered by Georgia Power Energy Services.