While overall economic conditions may seem dreary, the chief executive officer of OPEL Solar says the sun is shining on the Shelton-based company, at least if interest in industrial scale power systems is any indication.
Lee Pierhal (shown at left) said interest in those systems, which OPEL Solar produces is coming from both North America and beyond.
"Since late 2008 when the credit markets first crashed, we have seen a significant increase in requests for quotes on both our solar panels and our ground-based and rooftop tracker systems." Pierhal said. "Clearly,this bodes well for both OPEL Solar, as a leading supplier of solar products and systems, and the solar power industry at large.”
The company has a $1.2 million system of 770 solar panels installed on the roof of Plainville's Linden Street Elementary school that was paid for with money from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and a federal tax credit. But nearly three-quarters of OPEL Solar's business comes from foreign countries.
Pierhal said he believes the increased interest in the company's products is the result of the completion last October of a 330-kilowatt utility grade solar power plant in Spain and its plans to participate in a 1-megawatt project in Portugal with a renewable energy company there.
OPEL Solar uses solar energy systems that have a tracking technology, which allows the solar panels to shift as the sun moves in the sky. Some of the tracking technology is manufactured by a contractor in Derby that has added about 25 jobs last year to keep up with the demand, according to company officials.
Instead of using solar panels that are made of silicon, which is the current standard for the industry, OPEL Solar has developed a technology that uses large plastic lenses to focus the sun’s rays on cells made of the compound gallium arsenide.The plastic lenses, which can withstand high levels of heat, act like a magnifying glass in focusing suns rays on the smaller gallium arsenide cells.