Aiken County is now officially a solar county

Published: Aug. 9, 2017 at 6:29 PM EDT
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Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 / News 12 First at Five

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – With the flip of a switch, Aiken County is now a solar county.

“That’s how we can compete in the world,” said SC Rep. Joe Wilson.

Not even the rain could keep spirits down or power out today as MTU cut the ribbon on its Graniteville solar plant.

“I’m 100% certain that solar becomes one of the main energy sources of the future,” said Joerg Klisch, Director of the MTU Solar Plant.

The biggest challenge now is figuring out how to keep that energy flowing, even on a cloudy day like this.

“In solar, we need some storage capacity; you can’t store energy very long right now,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.

But MTU director Joerg Klisch said a solution that could power the community is coming sooner than you think.

“We are currently working with SCE&G right now on a project proposal to create a microgrid right here,” said Klisch.

The microgrid that’s being tested right now on site will act like a hybrid car, storing both fossil fuel and renewable energy; like wind and solar energy; to keep the power on all night long.

MTU makes giant engines; 20,000 plus pounds; that will supplement energy to solar grids and power communities for decades to come.

“In the first year, we expect to save about 1500 metric tons of carbon footprint,” said Klisch.

That’s like taking 1500 elephants-worth of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. And, as Wilson says, it will provide eco-friendly jobs.

“It gives young people the incentive to look for the potential in solar power development,” said Wilson.

With an average of 250 sunny days per year in South Carolina, the contribution this plant makes will provide stability for generations of Aiken families.

“If you look at a map, South Carolina is in the perfect place for solar energy,” said Klisch.

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