Wind or solar for home use? How about both?


The wind and solar power combination captures more energy than either could alone. A solar tracker from ATR keeps the solar panels pointed at the sun for a 30% improvement over stationary panels.

The first commercially available solar-wind hybrid system in Maryland can be sized for a home or small business. One has just begun generating power on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Under suitable conditions, this grid-tied device, which features a residential-size wind turbine with six solar panels attached to the turbine’s post, can produce one-third to one-half the power used by the average Maryland home. The device uses two clean-energy sources at once along with a sun tracker designed by Advanced Technology & Research, Columbia, Md. that lets the solar arrays produce up to 30% more power than fixed panels. “Some days it’s windy and some days it’s not,” says ATR VP Rob Lundahl. “Many days it’s sunny and sometimes it’s not. The combination of the two provides more power more often,” says Lundahl.

This hybrid sits at the home of Dewayne and Dawn Stewart. The unit, a Southwest Windpower Skystream, was installed by Fluharty’s Electric, Tilghman, Md., where Dewayne works, about four years ago while the tracking solar panels were just added.

“Our use of green power is saving on our electric bill and more importantly, setting a good example for our children and the children in her day care,” he added.  Fluharty’s began installing wind turbines about five years ago and is a Southwest Wind dealer and installer, said owner Tim Fluharty. The idea of combining wind and solar power intrigued the company. Fluharty says for the average buyer, the solar part of the system should pay for itself in about six years with the availability of solar renewable energy credits, while the wind component should take 10 to 15 years because the wind credits aren’t as strong.

Talbot County Engineer Ray Clark says the Department of Public Works is also interested in the idea of combining wind and solar power. The agency is finalizing the design of a 50-kW wind turbine for Tilghman Island’s wastewater treatment plant, and is looking at incorporating a solar array producing up to 50 kW more for the plant.  And now that he knows about ATR’s sun tracker, the department may consider using trackers for the treatment plant as well as other county projects.

In addition to helping consumers and small businesses cut energy costs, the hybrid’s solar module—along with three other ATR tracking solar products—can benefit Maryland by helping generate jobs because nearly all of the trackers’ components are made and assembled in the state, says Lundahl. “This tracking technology is exportable to all counties in Maryland, the entire U.S., and beyond,” Lundahl added.

Advanced Technology and Research

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