FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

Walking On The Sun

December 10, 2008

In 2005, FedEx went solar by installing a 904-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the Oakland Hub in California. It took 300,000 solar cells developed by Sharp installed into 5,769 photovoltaic modules to cover the 81,000 square foot area roof. At peak output, the solar-electric system installed by Berkeley-based PowerLight Corporation, can produce the equivalent power used by more than 900 homes during the daytime. In addition to generating electricity, the solar panels will help insulate the buildings, further reducing heating and cooling costs. The panels will reduce the purchasing of fossil-fuel generated electricity by providing 80% of the electrical power. This project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10,800 tons over 30 years, equivalent to planting 3,000 acres of trees or removing almost 2,100 cars.

It would have been even nicer if they could have included an extension cord to power my lights when I was sent there to take   photographics of the photovoltaics. I looked up that last word in the electionary to make sure Mitch Jackson didn’t make it up.     ” : of, relating to, or utilizing the generation of a voltage when radiant energy falls on the boundary between dissimilar substances (as two different semiconductors)
Simple enough. In other words it’s magic. The sun gives the really cool looking blue tiles a sunburn and the sunscreen captures the heat and creates a tan which the building shows off. I could have used photosynthesis as an analogy but I didn’t want to work that hard.
One other thing I did learn while on the roof besides never drink coffee before getting stranded on a hot tin roof is to not lay on the solar panels. I wanted a clean panel to photograph so I took out my handkerchief and began wiping the dirty module. I stretched out and laid out my body to reach the far corners so as to spread my weight so as not to injure the photovoltaics. Which brings me back to the definition I recounted for you . . . semiconductors. I don’t know why I wasn’t turned into Memphis Barbecue there in sunny California as afterward when I managed not unlike the Comcast turtle on a fence post to right myself from my cleaning project to read the warning: WARNING ELECTRICAL SHOCK HAZARD Do not touch terminals. Terminals on both LINE and LOAD sides may be energized in the OPEN POSITION. DO NOT lie on the modules and clean them with a sweaty handkerchief as it may cause early inheritance.
The only thing I can figure is when I laid over the solar cells they assumed an eclipse was taking place and automatically shut down to conserve energy. Technology, it’s a cool thing even in the sun.

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