Largest Private Solar Power System in North Carolina Goes Live on NC State Campus

January 15, 2008

Raleigh, N.C. (January 15, 2008)

Richard Harkrader, owner of Durham-based Carolina Solar Energy, has waited three years for this day.

After many lessons learned, the solar project his company began in 2004 is finally up and running on the North Carolina State University campus next to the RBC Center in Raleigh, making it the largest privately financed solar photovoltaic (PV) array in North Carolina.

The 75.6 kilowatt (kW) system, comprising 432 ground-mounted solar panels, was dedicated on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at a ceremony hosted by NC GreenPower and N.C. State University. The power it generates is sold to Progress Energy.

“I believe consumer demand for green power will quickly outpace supply in our state,” said Harkrader, “One of our goals with this project is to show that solar power is feasible on a large scale right here in North Carolina.”

Until now, the state’s primary investors in solar energy projects have been homeowners, environmentalists, and a handful of large corporations or government agencies. Cost is often cited as one of the major prohibiting factors.

But the barriers that the industry once faced are now being overcome, thanks to available federal and state tax incentives, as well as demand created by NC GreenPower, a non-profit program that enables electric customers to support cleaner energy options across the state through voluntary contributions on their electric bill. Today, the program supports a number of green power projects, including more than 100 solar energy sites statewide.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the renewable energy business,” said Robert Koger, president of NC GreenPower. “And we are very pleased to be a part of the success story of green power in North Carolina.”

The site dedicated Tuesday is located on land provided by N.C. State University and will serve as both an educational project for students and a visible reminder of the changing landscape of energy. The dedication also is part of N.C. State’s “Year of Energy,” a special year-long focus on energy-related issues and practices.

“In setting energy as our priority and focus, N.C. State is demonstrating a commitment to our land grant mission of meeting the needs of the citizens of North Carolina,” said Chancellor James Oblinger.

Meeting the needs of North Carolina residents is also a priority for Progress Energy, which purchases the electricity generated by the solar array.

“We are focused on a balanced approach that includes investments in new energy-efficiency programs, alternative and renewable energy technologies and state-of-the-art power plants,” said Progress Energy Carolinas president and chief executive officer Lloyd Yates. “This solar array is part of the solution.”

While all in attendance celebrated the significance of the N.C. State solar array, Carolina Solar Energy’s founder stressed that more work remains to be done.

“Photovoltaic solar technology has come a long way in the past few decades,” Harkrader said. “There’s no doubt solar power is becoming a viable investment in North Carolina, and will improve the larger projects we build.”

The N.C. State solar array is the first in a series of projects that Carolina Solar Energy plans to build. Future plans include several 100 kW systems hosted by businesses, schools, shopping centers and government facilities across the state.

NCSU Solar Project, by the numbers

Equipment:432 SolarWorld, 175 Watt solar panels
Satcon 75KW three phase inverter
Annual electricity generation:95,000 KW hours
sufficient to power 8-10 average NC homes
Project cost:$605,000
Annual emissions avoided:Offsets the burning of approximately 80,000 pounds of coal,
which would produce 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide
(source NC GreenPower emission calculator)

NCSU Solar Project Partners


About NC GreenPower

NC GreenPower is the nation’s first statewide, multi-utility initiative to encourage the development of renewable energy sources. The program taps into technology that transforms renewable energy sources such as wind, sunshine and landfill methane gas into safe and environmentally sustainable power, giving North Carolinians cleaner options for their energy sources. NC GreenPower was launched in October 2003 and is currently offered to customers in 44 electric utilities. NC GreenPower is a subsidiary of Advanced Energy, a Raleigh-based nonprofit corporation that helps utility, industrial and residential customers improve the return on their energy investment.

Residential and business customers may voluntarily contribute funds that NC GreenPower will use to purchase power from renewable energy sources in the state. All renewable energy will be generated in North Carolina for the state’s electric supply. Customers also may sign up for the program by contacting their electric provider.