AstroPower PV Systems Exceed Expectations

AstroPower, Inc. announced Monday that its solar electric power products exceeded expectations for annual output in two California solar power plants.

NEWARK, Delaware 2002-03-06 [] AstroPower products enabled the plants to surpass expectations by more than 10 percent by generating a total of 320,000 kWh of electricity in 2001. Located in Hopland and Berkeley, California, the plants are owned and operated under a joint-venture agreement between AstroPower and Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. The plants began operations in 1999 and 2000, respectively.       The Hopland power plant features 132 kW of AstroPower PV panels, which are elevated to serve as a series of shade structures totaling 15,000 square feet. The plant is located at the Real Goods Solar Living Center, a non-profit clean energy retail and teaching facility in Hopland which attracts more than 150,000 visitors annually. The shade structures of the panels form a canopy for Solar Living Center outdoor events.       The 100-kilowatt Berkeley power plant is composed of 39,000 state-of-the-art AstroPower solar cells. The plant is located on the roof of a working factory and provides both electricity production and energy efficiency in a PV roof tile assembly. The plants, which interconnect at distribution voltage, provide the California utility grid with reliable, renewable electricity. All of the electricity produced by the plants is purchased by Green Mountain Energy for distribution to the electric grid under a multi-year power-purchase agreement.       “The Hopland and Berkeley power stations substantially exceeded expectations this year,” said Howard Wenger, Vice President, North American Business, at AstroPower. “They are proving once again that solar power is the ultimate power generation technology. The solar plants support the utility grid during peak demand periods, and do so with pure, clean power from an inexhaustible resource.” “The true measurement of any electricity generator is the kilowatt-hours of electricity produced,” said Dr. Allen Barnett, President and CEO of AstroPower. “There are complex algorithms to predict energy generation that are used by all manufacturers of generating equipment – gas turbines, coal-fired generators, etc. The fact that these two power plants produced 110 percent of expected energy last year is truly notable and a credit to the generating product and the system. “Most importantly, these power plants generated their energy during peak demand,” Barnett continued. “The sun causes the peak in electricity demand. When it’s sunny and hot, air conditioners go on and demand increases. During these periods of peak demand, fossil fuel generators are less efficient, and so is the utility distribution system. However, solar power plants are at the peak of their output when the grid needs the power the most. This value proposition is illustrated perfectly by these California solar plants.”

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