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Columbia Company Puts Stimulus Money to Work For Solar Energy

A Columbia company is using $1.1 million in Maryland Energy Administration grant funding that originated as federal stimulus money to build devices that will make solar power generation more efficient. Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR) plans to use GPS-based controllers to nudge its Solar Pole Tracker systems and the panels they move in the direction of sunlight, optimizing electricity production throughout the day.

The pole-mounted module will first be attached to vertical surfaces such as parking lot light posts that are already connected to the grid. With MEA funding contingent on production of 1200 units by March 2012, ATR is working to make the product more affordable and predicts a five-year payback period when state and federal clean energy incentives are taken into account. The Solar Pole Tracker hub also has space for advertisements, which could make them profitable for operators of distributed power generation systems such as parking lots with multiple solar panels mounted on light poles.

ATR also wants to make Solar Pole Trackers for wind turbines for doubled clean energy impact. "President Obama and Governor O'Malley know how important it is to stimulate American innovation and bring manufacturing back to the U.S. to generate new jobs," says Rob Lundahl, ATR's vice president for automation systems. ATR expects to create dozens of green jobs in Maryland as production of the Solar Pole Tracker and related devices increases.

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Rob Lundahl, ATR
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