The transit authority in Silicon Valley announced on Friday, May 15, that it is looking to give itself a greener profile. It's not doing it with biofuel buses or maintenance trucks that run on ethanol. Instead, it's running a test project with solar array manufacturer Skyline Solar to harness solar energy. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority unveiled a new 27-kilowatt High Gain Solar array at its San Jose, Calif., bus maintenance and operations facility. The system works like a typical business or residential solar power system, and the electricity produced through the project helps offset the power the VTA purchases from local utility Pacific Gas & Electric.
Skyline Solar's design uses bent sheet metal to reflect the sun's rays onto a silicon collector, which the VTA says solves two main barriers to solar energy--cost and scalability. Using the monocrystalline silicon cells and tracking technology to increase the amount of energy captured, the amount of silicon required is reduced by 90 percent. This design cuts costs further by using globally available manufacturing facilities, like automotive factories, to produce the racks and mounting systems.
Skyline Solar says it enhances the efficiency of its solar systems by reflecting sunlight, and using convection cooling, string and shadow management, tracking capabilities, and a streamlined installation process to drive higher energy gains.
"Projects like these," Honda said, "where Congress, Santa Clara County, the Department of Energy, and Silicon Valley partnered together to power the 911 Communications Facility, exemplify how the public and private sectors can effectively come together for the common good."
Officials hope that by adopting these technologies, governments will demonstrate their effectiveness and scalability, fostering wider uses and applications.