This new project represents a culmination of efforts by several Columbus companies as well as the first US project for Taiwan-based General Energy Solutions (GES), which manufactures the solar panels. This project is the result of a July 2010 request by the City of Columbus and is expected to produce 802,000 kilowatt-hours per year. As a comparison, the Milestone 229 panels generated 57,721 kWhs of electricity last year; or
enough electricity to power more than five Ohio homes
City officials hope this project will be declared a Qualified Exempt Energy Facility under the provisions of Senate Bill 232. As part of the qualification process, Franklin County has designated itself to be an Alternative Energy Zone with the hope of encouraging more alternative energy projects to locate their operations within Franklin County.
So why invest in solar power? Because solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on Earth — 173,000 terawatts of solar energy continuously strikes our planet. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use. Solar energy is also a fuel source that is pollution and noise free. The versatility of the technology also allows for solar cells to generate energy for satellites in Earth’s orbit as easily as they can power urban buildings.
It may come as a surprise to many that much of the United States, including Ohio, is well positioned for solar power development (see map to below). This potential partly explains why the industry has seen triple digit growth in recent years. However, we still are not the world’s largest generators of solar power. In 2011, Germany produced 36 percent of the total solar power output followed by Italy at 18 percent and then the US at 7 percent.
Communities that encourage conservation of current energy supplies and development of new sources will be best positioned for the future. With that said, Columbus will be a shining example for others cities.