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OUC’s experiment signals dawn of solar expansion

ORLANDO, Fl. — In southeast Orlando, near Pershing Avenue, a group of solar panels sit surrounded by yellow tape, part of an experiment.

  • Orlando Utilities Commission eyeing solar expansion
  • OUC experimental farm tests 5 types of solar panels
  • Company aims to open 3 solar farms in near future

“We did one, two, three, four is the one that is missing, and then we have five over there,” said Rubin York of Orlando Utilities Commission.

On silver support frames are five different types of solar panels. OUC is testing to see which solar panel performs best.

“There is not a whole lot of data like this out there,” York said.

“This panel right here has the ability to produce energy on both sides, and that is why they call it a bifacial panel. … It’s a technology that I think has a lot of promise here in Florida,” said Sam Choi, OUC’s Emerging Technologies and Renewable manager.

Officials assemble wires and more parts along the panels, making sure the test results are accurate.

“(It’s) very standard engineering sensor equipment. Basically, it gives us temperature readings,” York chuckles.

The temperature readings will indicate which one of the panels brings in the most energy the most efficiently.

“I think we are looking at all different ways of installing these panels. It could be on a big solar farm, it could be on someone’s rooftop,” Choi said.

Although renewable energy accounts for just 2 percent of OUC’s generation portfolio now, that will change with three new solar farms.

The test site has 40 panels now but will expand to 78 panels eventually.

“We are really excited about this project. We’ve never done anything like this before,” Choi said. “We want to see what kind of new technologies are out there.”

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