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Bringing solar power home

Advances presented at SPIE's international forums are behind installation

BELLINGHAM, WA, USA - 19 June 2008 - SPIE has long been active in advancing the research and technology behind solar electric systems for homes and businesses. Now the Society has made an investment in the cost-efficient, sustainable energy resulting from this research, with the installation of a new 15kW solar electric system on the roof of its Bellingham, WA, headquarters. When complete, the system will include 75 solar panels and will generate around 15,700 kWh per year, according to installation contractor Dana Brandt, owner of Ecotech Energy Systems.

Solar energy has been the focus of conferences SPIE presents annually at the SPIE Optics and Photonics symposium in San Diego, CA. Activity continues to grow, and this year features eight conferences covering all current technologies being researched for solar cells, concentrators, and other components for solar-power generation systems. Conferences will run 10-14 August.

The SPIE Digital Library, containing more than 260,000 conference proceedings and journal papers dating from 1990, and the SPIE Newsroom, continually updated with technical articles and photonics industry news, provide additional ways to access research on solar and other alternative energy. See the SPIE Newsroom at spie.org/newsroom and learn more about the SPIE Digital Library at spie.org/SPIEDigitalLibrary.

"Developing and deploying sustainable energy sources is vitally important for today's economy and for managing resources for the long-term future," said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. "Having been involved in promoting research on solar energy throughout the world for many years, we are very happy to be plugging the results of that research into our local electric grid."

Solar electric systems have the potential to offer independence from utility power for some homes or businesses, with zero pollution. Home-owners and businesses also may benefit financially from solar electricity installations through "net metering" (excess energy a solar system produces is stored in the utility grid and subsequently drawn out as needed, so that only net usage is charged), legislature-mandated and other incentives, and tax credits.