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Chasing the Sun: Solar Panels go High Tech

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March 31, 2011

CARY, N.C. - Solar panels are taking a 21st-century turn with a new technology which enables panels to tilt in the direction of the sun.

"Solar trackers" have been used in Europe and Asia, and now are being introduced to North Carolina. The solar farm in Cary already uses them.

Brett Carlson, U.S. sales manager for the Haosolar company, says the trackers collect as much as 40 percent more energy than do traditional stationary panels.

"Solar energy tracking allows you to maximize your potential. Typical solar panels only allow you to get so much energy from your system."

Carlson says solar-tracking technology has potential in North Carolina because of the amount of sun the state receives, which is more than Germany, the international leader in solar-power generation.

Solar trackers are so efficient that they typically generate more electricity than the building they sit on requires. Margaret Hartzell, Environment North Carolina p6olicy advocate, says that opens the door to discussions about allowing consumers to sell extra power back to the grid.

"North Carolina has tremendous potential when it comes to solar power. Using this technology is just the next step in bringing more solar to North Carolina."

North Carolina is the first southeastern state to adopt a renewable-energy standard and offers tax credits for solar-power generation.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NC