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By: Greg Carter | G+
Solar Powers Manufacturing Forward
Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Solar power and manufacturing can be a perfect match-up with a positive outcome. American manufacturers have increasingly integrated clean energy solar power into their facilities. Besides the obvious environmental benefit, solar panels can reduce operational costs. Solar panels are busy absorbing daylight at just the right time when industrial operations are peaking. Excess energy is stored for night-time operations. Plus, factories often have large flat roofs with plenty of roof space, making installation easier.
How Do Manufacturers Harness Solar Power?Commercial solar power usually runs off a power grid – what’s called a photovoltaic system (PV). Photovoltaics is the conversion of light into electricity. A power grid-connected PV system consists of solar panels, inverters to convert DC to AC power, a power conditioning unit to protect against voltage spikes and grid connection equipment. The energy is ready to feed equipment used in manufacturing operations like electric controls and motors.
Electric controls and motors are the workhorses of industry. Critical replacement parts like electrical contacts, motor brushes and control coils help stop and start electrical energy to factory floor equipment.
Solar Panels for Manufacturing Have Longer Electrical LifeAccording to the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels are typically warrantied for 20–25 years. Beyond that, they can still produce electricity, but the level of actual output varies. Contributing to the savings, the technology has minimal physical moving parts. This means the system should have a longer lifetime than mechanical energy producing systems.
Solar power is being embraced by leading industrial companies like Schneider Electric and Siemens. Schneider Electric is recognized as Clean Energy trailblazer. Siemens recently began offering onsite Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) solutions at no up-front cost to the end user. Tesla’s largest manufacturing facility in Reno, NV, will run entirely on solar power.
Manufacturers Embrace Solar Clean Energy FutureThe National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is embracing the clean energy initiative. NAM is the nation's largest manufacturing industrial trade association representing 14,000 small and large manufacturing companies. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on President Joe Biden’s climate executive orders:
"Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution and a global partnership, and manufacturers are committed to solving the problem."
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