A 500 kilowatt solar electric project comprised of 2,700 solar panels helps power our Wastewater Treatment Plant in Atlantic City, NJ.
Built in 2005, the system is estimated to produce more than 600,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually -- enough to power approximately 60 homes! Solar panels are located on the ground, roof tops and on a canopy over the employee parking lot at the plant.
The power produced, in conjunction with the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm, is used to operate the wastewater treatment plant, with any excess energy provided to the main power grid.
Solar power is perhaps the most underutilized natural, renewable source of energy available to our planet. If the amount of sunlight that falls on the earth’s surface in just one hour was converted to energy with solar panels, we could create more power than is used by the entire population in a year. Put another way: the sun can produce enough clean energy in one hour to satisfy our energy needs for an entire year!
The sun’s rays can be effectively used to both harness heat and generate electricity. Currently, the most effective way to derive energy from the sun is by way of photovoltaic (PV) cells, sometimes called solar cells.
Individual PV cells are electricity-producing devices made of semiconductor materials. Most PV cells start with a thin wafer of either single-crystal silicon, or a deposited layer of polysilicon. PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but are generally very small—a few inches to a side—and produce less than 1 watt of electricity on their own. Many small PV cells are connected together to form PV modules that may be up to several feet long and a few feet wide. These modules are often referred to simply as solar panels. These solar panels can then be combined and connected to form PV arrays of different sizes and power output. The ACUA’s Wastewater Treatment facility currently houses a 500 kilowatt PV array, comprised of 2,700 panels.
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