Follow the sun could be the motto of
Advanced Technology & Research
, a firm that a few years ago developed a product to do just that.
Instead of stationary solar panels, an increasingly familiar sight on rooftops, the Columbia-based company makes a solar tracking device that rotates as the sun moves. The rotation of the device allows for maximum performance, capturing 30 to 45 percent more energy than stationary solar panels aligned at an optimal angle to the sun, says Robert Lundahl, Advanced Technology's vice president for energy systems and automation.
Lundahl says the device has residential and commercial use as an energy-saving measure. But it is being bought and installed for other uses as well. Mid-Atlantic Terminal at the Port of Baltimore recently installed three devices to power electric vehicles operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. Wallenius Wilhelmsen is powering two electric vehicles to move personnel and material around the port, and has indicated it may order more devices in the future.
Another recent installation was a row house residence in Federal Hill, where the company's distributor NEXUS Energy Homes installed one on the rooftop. It was the first sun-tracking device installed on a Federal Hill residence.
Advanced Technology's device can be ordered with one standard-size, 235-Watt solar panel (known as a single tracker) or with two 235-Watt solar panels (dual tracker). The tracker is connected to a mounting. The mounting can be placed on a rooftop or on the ground. A GPS-controlled drive unit rotates the panels to follow the sun.
Like solar panels, the device is then connected to an electric grid; accumulated energy reduces the electric bill.
The basic cost of the ATR device is $2,895 before installation. The number of devices is determined by roof size and budget. The devices are eligible for state and federal renewable energy tax credits.
Advanced Technology & Research is a 38-year old engineering company that traditionally works with military and coastal agencies. It began making the solar device four years as a response to the increased demand for energy-efficient products, Lundahl says.
Landahl says the company is focusing on the mid-Atlantic region now but may go nationwide as the market increases.
Source: Robert Lundahl, vice president for energy systems and automation at Advanced Technology & Research
Writer: Barbara Pash