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Monday, August 2, 2010

MATC keeps current with the sun

From an article by Thomas Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The new Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory harnesses solar energy and offers engineering students a way to plug in to powerful possibilities

People seeking training for careers in renewable energy - especially solar power - will benefit from an ambitious project by Milwaukee Area Technical College and local firms.

The project includes a solar charging station for plug-in vehicles, a solar-powered highway sign demonstration and a training area for solar installers and electricians. They're all built on portable concrete pads.

When it's completed later this month, the MATC Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory on the east side along the Milwaukee River will become the largest solar installation in the state.

"It's here to generate power, reduce our carbon footprint, but it's mainly for training and education," said Mike Sargent, the college's chief financial officer and co- chairman of its sustainability committee.

The $7.1 million solar panel project will be a research center for students at MATC, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and other engineering schools.

The reason: Hundreds of sensors linked to the panels will give detailed real-time data about the solar power produced based on factors including temperature, haze, and cloud conditions, said Joe Jacobsen, director of the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing at MATC.

The project consists of several "fields" of solar panels, all sitting underneath television towers for Milwaukee Public Television and WDJT-TV (Channel 58).

The project showcases a variety of panel designs and technologies - including residential- and commercial-size systems - as well as some new features.

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