Where Solar and Wind Power Meet in South Carolina

Toni Reale, SACE's Coastal Program Coordinator, stands next to IMO's 22.5kW Solar Tracker.

Toni Reale, SACE's Coastal Program Coordinator, stands next to IMO's 22.5kW Solar Tracker right before launch.

On a blustery, yet sunny, December afternoon in Summerville, South Carolina just outside of Charleston, a crowd of about 100 gathered to witness the unveiling of the state’s largest solar tracker.  The German-based company, IMO, recently moved to South Carolina following the announcement of Clemson University’s Wind Turbine Drive Train Test Facility.  They were the first company to open up shop in what is being dubbed a ‘manufacturing cluster’ evolving around Clemson’s $98 million dollar renewable energy project. IMO is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of slewing rings which are used in solar trackers, wind turbines, medical technology and construction machinery.

Further displaying the company’s commitment to a clean energy future, IMO installed a 22.5 killowatt dual-axis “solar tracker” to power a portion of the company’s manufacturing operations.  The solar tracker (a high-tech, giant solar panel), whose footprint of 1,614 sqf is larger than most homes in the area, will automatically follow the sun’s latitude and azimuth generating approximately 42,000 kilowatt-hours every year.  This technology is 30% more efficient than those trackers that do not reposition themselves every two minutes to ensure maximum solar capture.

In an effort to help people visualize the amount of power that this tracker will produce, Klaus Pless, IMO’s Vice President of Solar Sales quantifies that 42,000 kilowatt-hours is equivalent to the amount of energy in burning 34,000 lbs of coal and reducing carbon emissions by 87,000 lbs every year.  This carbon savings is roughly equal to driving 106,000 miles each year or planting 6,700 trees.

IMO’s slew ring manufacturing operations are slated to begin in early 2011.  IMO company will ultimately bring roughly 190 jobs and $47 million offshorewindarraydollars in investment to Dorchester County, South Carolina.  These slew rings highlight an important technological innovation that link solar and wind power. Their products will be shipped all over the world to fuel the burgeoning renewable energy industry and hopefully one day will be used in wind turbines off the coast of South Carolina.  IMO is a perfect example of a renewable energy company moving to the South, bringing jobs, investments and a commitment to move clean energy technology forward in our region.

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