Alliant Energy Creating a Bright Future Using Solar
June 2016

​Electric power companies are the largest investors in renewable energy in the United States. With investments in technologies such as energy storage, these companies are constantly innovating to enhance the reliability of the power grid and to integrate growing sources of renewable energy.

This was recently demonstrated by Alliant Energy, which has a new solar demonstration research project now underway at its Madison, Wis, office. Developed in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the project is designed to learn how solar and battery energy storage technology perform in a Midwest climate.
 
When thinking about solar power, most people likely think about the open, sun-drenched spaces found in the Southwest deserts. However, the potential of the sun is everywhere.

Learning to maximize the benefits of solar power in places like Wisconsin requires further data gathering and research. The Madison project is designed as "a learning laboratory for research that our customers can view on a regular basis," said John Larsen, president of Alliant Energy's Wisconsin utility.

The universal solar project includes more than 1,300 solar panels mounted in a variety of configurations and orientations, including rooftop, on poles, and canopy-mounted arrays with a variety of degrees of articulation. This diversity of systems may look a bit strange compared to the uniform arrays at solar power plants, but serves the purpose of allowing Alliant Energy and EPRI to take a structured, scientific approach to evaluating the best solar power solutions for Wisconsin.

The project also includes a battery energy storage system, 13 electric vehicle charging stations, and two solar café tables that allow employees to charge their phones.

Innovative projects such as this are important to developing new energy technologies that benefit customers. While renewable energy systems like solar and wind power have immense potential, the conditions under which they operate vary considerably across the country. By carefully evaluating the role that clean energy sources can have in a given service area, electric companies like Alliant Energy are helping to lay the foundation for a clean energy future that makes sense for all customers.