ORNL to Host Tennessee Solar Initiative
In a press conference held at the Tennessee capitol, Governor Phil Bredesen announced plans for a $62 million Solar Initiative that will be housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. The Solar Institute will be dedicated to research in battery storage and thin-film photovoltaics, two areas key to the future of the solar industry.
Tennessee has been the site for two recent major investments by solar-industry manufacturers. Governor Bredesen is hoping to build upon this momentum by establishing Tennessee as a "thought leader" in the emerging renewable energy sector.
The Governor said the Solar Institute will marshal the state's research capabilities to improve the conversion of solar energy into electricity and to increase the capacity of solar batteries to store electrical energy. The project's ultimate goal is to expand the use of solar power by making it more competitive with fossil energy.
ORNL was selected to lead the effort in part because of the laboratory's capabilities in advanced materials research. The Spallation Neutron Source, the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, and the Leadership Computing Facility together give Tennessee a unique collection of assets needed to tackle a variety of materials-related issues.
The Governor's Solar Initiative also includes the construction of a five-mega-watt "Solar Farm" that will be located adjacent to Interstate 40. The Solar Farm will sell green power to the Tennessee Valley Authority and use the revenues to fund future experimental solar panels for the Solar Institute.
The Solar Institute is the latest partnership between ORNL and the state of Tennessee. The state in 2006 invested approximately $70 million in a joint bioenergy project to develop cellulosic ethanol, in cooperation with the Department of Energy. The project included the construction of a bio-refinery to commercialize the new generation of ethanol produced at ORNL.
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations