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Iowa and Solar Energy

  • The Iowa department of Transportation (DOT) began using solar-powered equipment along Iowa’s roadways in 1997. The DOT uses more than 100 solar-powered message signs, traffic recorders, weigh-in-motion detectors, and Road Weather Information Systems.
  • The Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids uses a 960 W photovoltaic system to supply power to its Sugar House Building (used to make maple syrup). The solar system is mounted on the building's roof and is connected to the local utility grid. Ten percent of the Sugar House's power needs are met during the workweek. During the weekend, the excess electricity is sent back to the grid.
  • Iowa State’s team PrISUm builds solar cars to race in national solar car events. Their mission is to educate the public and increase interest in solar energy.
  • Researchers at the Microelectronics Research Center (MRC) at Iowa State University is currently conducting research on the reliability of thin-film photovoltaics and how they could be used in Iowa. NASA has used some of the research done by the MRC in its space programs.
  • A Boone, Iowa, company uses thin film technology to produce tents for the U.S. Army. The tents collect heat during the day for warmth at night and the film is flexible enough to be folded and easily transported.