ALABAMA POWER COMPANY: Alabama will use the Falcon Heavy rocket to deliver the state’s first solar panels on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the company said Wednesday.
“SpaceX is proud to announce that we will be able to use Falcon Heavy to deliver up to 100 MW of solar energy to the state of Alabama,” said Mark McGovern, CEO of Alabama Power.
“With the right support, this solar panel program will be an economic driver for the state and will be instrumental in keeping Alabama in the forefront of clean energy development.”
The company said the project will be built on a 50-acre site in South Birmingham.
“We expect to have the first of these solar panels installed in the coming months,” McGovern said.
“This is an important step in creating a renewable energy portfolio that will serve the needs of the community.
Our goal is to ensure that the energy that we deliver is available to the community to power their homes, businesses and the grid.
We are also excited to continue to build on the solar portfolio that we already have in place and will continue to be working to improve it.”
Alabama Power currently has two large projects underway that aim to provide electricity to more than 40,000 homes and businesses in South Alabama and surrounding counties.
The utility said the Falcon 9 would be able deliver more than 50 MW of power to a grid with over 100,000 customers.
Alabama has been working on a large-scale solar power project in recent years and a deal with SolarCity Corp. was announced last year.
The deal allows SolarCity to install a solar array on a 30-acre parcel in Birmingham and then sell the electricity to Alabama Power, which will use that power to supply electricity to over 20,000 households.
SolarCity also has a contract with AL Power to install solar panels.
Last year, AL Power awarded a $15 million contract to SolarCity and has a $3 million contract with SpaceX to supply solar power to Alabama’s utility, according to a press release.
The Alabama Solar Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes the deployment of solar, also supports SpaceX’s work in the solar industry.
The group’s president, Mike Fuchs, said in a statement that he believes SpaceX is a leader in the commercialization of commercial solar technologies.
“This is a game-changing solar investment that will have a major positive impact on our state,” Fuchs said.
A statement from Alabama Power read, “We are excited to be partnering with SpaceX and will use this innovative, state-of-the-art technology to deliver a substantial portion of our solar energy demand to our communities and to the grid.”
The news of the deal comes as the Trump administration and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are in negotiations to explore ways to bring the solar power produced by the American solar industry to the mainland United States.