Ulbrich Sees Promise in Solar Energy
After a stint of record-breaking heat, few have good things to say about the season’s sun, but employees at Ulbrich are putting sunny days to work. This summer, a roof-mounted solar array was installed at our Westminster, South Carolina location to help power our wire manufacturing facility. Designed to harness the sun’s power as well as demonstrate our photovoltaic ribbon products, the array consists of 40 modules and is a pioneering step in support of the clean energy movement.
After years of discussing the installation of a photovoltaic solar panels, Ulbrich leadership decided that the project was most appropriate for our company’s original and largest photovoltaic (PV) ribbon producing facility in Westminster, SC. The sustainability of solar energy along with the rising cost of electricity means that solar power is getting increasingly close to grid parity, the point at which solar energy costs are equal to or less than traditional energy sources. This, coupled with growing concern over pollution from other energy sources has made clean renewable energy an increasingly attractive option. In fact, PV production is the world’s fastest growing energy technology, increasing by an average of 48 percent each year since 2002.
Throughout this rapid development, we have grown along with the industry, and, in 1999, we began selling its PV products internationally. The copper ribbon we produce can now be found in the very array that will soon power our Westminster facility.
Steve Watts, Engineering Manager at Ulbrich Specialty Wire Products, helped plan the project and hopes that the installation will serve as a working exhibition of Ulbrich’s products. However, this demonstration is not just good business, it is good citizenship.
While many may be skeptical of so-called “green living” due to its fad-like contagion, the environmental benefits of clean energy are undeniable. A reduction of greenhouse gases, decreased reliance on foreign energy sources, and economic development in the industry locally are all cited effects of clean energy by the U.S. EPA. According to Ed Treglia, Vice President of Specialty Wire, “We want to do our part to demonstrate the movement to clean, renewable energies to our employees and to the local community here in South Carolina.” To further demonstrate Ulbrich’s dedication to the environment, we have several other programs designed to reduce energy consumption including the installation of energy efficient lighting, institution of a “zero-landfill” policy to promote recycling, and support for employees who choose energy efficient vehicles. These actions in conjunction with the new roof-mounted solar array are designed to promote our goal of community responsibility.
The solar array is scheduled to be functional this month. It’s approximated that the modules will provide 10KW of electrical power through an inverter. This is an energy savings that could pay for installation costs in as little as 5 years. As more people are introduced to the benefits of solar energy, the industry will continue advance, and, while many view a forecast full of sun as the continuation of a sweltering summer, we see it as a sign of the bright future ahead.