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Ameren plans solar energy demonstration

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This architect's rendering shows Ameren Missouri's headquarters building in St. Louis, which will serve as a solar power research laboratory. (courtesy of Ameren Missouri)

Ameren Missouri plans to offer its customers more information about use of solar energy and will begin a demonstration project next year.

On Monday, the St. Louis-based utility that serves Central Missouri unveiled a design for a multi-technology solar installation at the company’s headquarters in downtown St. Louis.

By the end of the year Sachs Electric Co. will complete installation of five solar power systems on the roof of Ameren Missouri’s headquarters in St. Louis.

Thomas R. Voss, Ameren president and chief executive officer, said the utility wants to provide its customers with practical information on the effectiveness and efficiencies of specific types of solar generation systems in Missouri’s climate.

“Information on our experience with these technologies will be available to the public,” Voss said, “so our customers can evaluate the use of solar energy at their homes or businesses.”

The project also will offer a viewing area and a classroom where visitors will be able to see the rooftop solar systems along with monitors showing how much energy it’s solar system is generating.

Voss said the firm’s experience with the solar energy demonstration project will be made available online for the public to view after the project is completed.

The three main solar generating systems to be installed on Ameren Missouri’s rooftop will be polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin film.

These systems have solar modules containing solar cells. They are square-shaped panels with semiconductors made of conductive materials. When sunlight strikes a solar cell, the sun’s energy is converted into electric current.

As part of the demonstration project, two tracker systems will be installed on the utility’s roof. These units use a pyramidal stand so they will rotate to follow the sun, thereby increasing their energy yields.

Ameren Missouri, which changed its name on Oct. 1 from AmerenUE, is experimenting with generating solar electricity and is sharing what it learns with its customers who may want to try installing solar energy at their homes.

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