Harnessing the Sun's Energy

After months of installation, Houston Mayor Bill White unveiled an array of solar panels on top of the Brown Convention Center. More than 600 panels provide a tiny portion of energy to the facility, but it marks the beginning of a pilot program designed to promote the best use of solar energy. Pat Hernandez has more.

Houston is one of a select group of American cities working with the U.S. Department of Energy in a program designed to accelerate the use of solar energy. Mayor Bill White, a former deputy secretary of the Energy Department, is pleased Houston will help show how best to harness solar energy and how it is commercially viable.

Workers install solar panels on the convention center overlooking Interstate 59“There’s been some $90 million dollars of public construction that’s been done since the beginning of this administration, in making buildings that are LEED certified, high energy efficiency standards.”

The cost of the project is being absorbed entirely by private sector sponsors. It will be managed by the Houston Advanced Research Center. Dr Richard Haut is senior research scientist.

“This is very unique in a public private partnership to have such a large installation occur. It helps to engage the private enterprise system, and helps to demonstrate how solar can actually be incorporated into an existing building.”

Houston based Standard Renewable Energy installed the system. CEO John Berger says it will produce electricity for a hundred homes.

“Right now renewable energy is practical and it’s real, and it’s here. We’re harnessing the Sun that’s coming in, falling upon the Earth right now, and providing free energy to the folks on the Earth.”

The start of a total “green roof vision” for the city owned convention center includes the possible installation of an herb garden.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.