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SolarWorld solar panels poised to power shelters as hurricane season approaches

Energy security is assured in shelters at 83 schools in Florida

HILLSBORO, Ore., Aug. 24, 2012 – As Florida braces for hurricane season, an ambitious program to install SolarWorld solar panels on 100 Florida schools by the end of 2012 has better equipped state residents to weather powerful storms. Tapping a $10 million federal stimulus grant, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has enabled installation of a 10-kilowatt solar array at each of the schools to provide emergency power for school-based shelters in the event of storms such as the impending Hurricane Isaac.

The ground-mounted solar systems supplement the schools’ electricity during normal operations while charging a bank of back-up batteries. If schools are put into service as emergency shelters, the solar systems will power their lighting and critical equipment, drawing on the batteries during dark hours.

A 10-kilowatt solar array supplies power to DeSoto Elementary School in Arcadia, FL.
Photo courtesy of University of Central Florida/Florida Solar Energy Center.
High Resolution JPEG, 1800x1350, 2 MB

"These installations represent multi-purpose applications of solar technology," said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years. "Solar is offering efficient and effective back-up power while reducing energy costs for schools and augmenting their science curriculum."

SolarWorld Authorized Installer Vergona-Bowersox Electric Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., has completed installations at 83 schools to date. "These solar systems increase the value of the state’s emergency shelters, making them more useful to citizens facing natural disasters," said Michael Vergona Jr., project manager for Vergona-Bowersox. "Evacuees during a hurricane now have a place to charge their cell phones, keep their medications and baby formula refrigerated, or heat up a meal."

According to FSEC, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, participating schools were selected based on their status as emergency shelters, their demographics and their renewable-energy curriculum. “This forward-thinking program, using solar energy to enhance disaster response capabilities, is an innovative example of applying green technology to meet community needs,” said Susan Schleith, FSEC project manager for the SunSmart program. “This program also provides a dynamic learning resource for the classroom, allowing students and teachers to study the relationship between energy and the environment, while gaining valuable science and math skills.”

For a complete list of participating schools, visit the FSCEC website.

About FSEC

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.


Sherri Shields
Assistant Director, Communications
Florida Solar Energy Center/University of Central Florida
Mobile: 321-508-1880


Susan Schleith
SunSmart E-Shelter Project Manager
Florida Solar Energy Center/ University of Central Florida
Mobile: 321-794-8511

SolarWorld Real Value

SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. As the largest solar producer in the United States and Europe, SolarWorld employs about 3,200 people and carries out production in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg and Arnstadt, Germany. From the raw material silicon to solar wafers, cells and panels, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe and is committed to resource- and energy-efficient production. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld was founded in 1998 and has been publicly traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit

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