GE Aviation Plant in Durham, NC, Uses Solar Panels

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The solar panels will cut the plant's energy bill by 30%, yet production at the plant will increase by 50%, (Photo: Neville Micallef)
The solar panels will cut the plant's energy bill by 30%, yet production at the plant will increase by 50%, (Photo: Neville Micallef)


  • GE Aviation has added solar technology to its Durham, NC, engine manufacturing plant
  • The $3 million solar field has 9,000 panels and will produce 700 KW
  • GE has implemented more 200 energy-reducing initiatives

GE Aviation’s plant in Durham, North Carolina, features a $3 million solar field, which will supply one third of the power needed to run the facility.

Some 9,000 solar panels will provide 700 KW of energy for the plant, which manufactures jet engines. The amount of energy produced would be roughly equivalent to enough power for 200 homes. The environmentally friendly solar panels will reduce emissions by at least 400 million tons a year, according to GE.

Energy Bill Cut 30%

The energy-friendly measures at the plant in Durham will lower the energy bill by 30%, yet the production at the plant will increase by 50%, said Mike Wagner, the plant manager. GE calls its efforts to save energy ‘ecomagination’ and envisions reducing the intensity of its energy use by up to 50%.

GE turned to solar as a way to decrease reliance on sources of energy that cannot be renewed and because it fits with GE’s energy-reducing strategy. The company has implemented more than 200 energy-reducing initiatives in the past several years, and has hopes to reduce water use by 25% and cut emissions by 25%.

The solar field in Durham is one of several located in North Carolina; there are also fields in Cary and Davidson County.

Key Players – US Solar Power Market

  • GE Energy, NextEra Energy Resources, United Solar Ovonic, SunPower Corporation, First Solar, Evergreen Solar, GT Solar International, Global Solar Energy, Advent Solar, EMCORE Corporation, Envision Solar

Key Statistics  – Global Solar Power

  • The number of PV solar panel installations increased by 79% from 2009 to 2010. (source: Global Data)
  • Global solar PV installed capacity hit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 55% over the period 2001-2010. (source: Global Data)
  • The United States is in a prime position to buy more solar panels: 16 states installed 10 MW of solar power in 2010. (source: Taiyou Research)

By C. Williams for
C. Williams is a journalist based in the United States. She has been covering the news for over a decade.

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