Delta Products may be one of the Delta Group Companies whose business offices and manufacturing plants span three continents, but its corporate mission statement is simple: “To provide innovative energy-saving products for a better quality of life.”

In an effort to further its commitment to renewable technology, the company recently collaborated with Southern Energy Management (SEM), a Raleigh, N.C.-based licensed electrical contracting firm that specializes in building efficiency and solar power, to install a 30.4kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the rooftop of Delta Products' research & development lab in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Comprised of 160 solar panels, the system went into operation on Jan. 7, 2008, and is expected to produce approximately 36,000kWh of electricity per year — enough to offset 37 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Furthermore, the PV system is grid-tied, meaning the electricity it generates flows into local utility power lines. Not only does this add to the supply of locally produced clean energy, it also earns Delta between $0.04 per kWh and $0.14 per kWh from the utility and another $0.14 from the NC Green Power Program.

In addition, the company received tax incentives for the system, including state and federal tax credits, and accelerated depreciation. Combined, these incentives cover more than 70% of the system's cost, which will pay for itself in less than 12 years.

“Not only is all of the power generated by the system being sold back to Duke Energy, but Delta's PV system also raises awareness about solar power as a viable investment for companies in Research Triangle Park and across North Carolina looking to strengthen their sustainability initiatives and reduce their carbon footprint,” says Bob Kingery, cofounder of SEM.

The project, which took approximately 120 days to complete, was performed at a cost of $9 per watt. At the time of completion, it was the largest corporate roof-mounted solar PV system in the state. As with most large-scale projects, SEM encountered a few minor challenges along the way.

“Interconnection is typically an issue with large PV systems,” says Kingery. “So, we were sure to engage the local utility early in the process to determine the best interconnection strategy.”

The next challenge involved Delta inverters manufactured outside the United States. A complication with the international specifications listing database resulted in the project's slight delay, which Kingery says taught SEM the importance of up-to-date specifications for every component used in installation.

“SEM was attentive and patient with our design goals and construction concerns,” says Tim Kalhorn, sales engineer/account manager for Delta Products. “When we were concerned about risks to our rubber membrane roof, they met with our roofing contractor on-site during installation to discuss any issues and alleviate all concerns.”

Looking back, SEM says it considers this solar project a milestone for the company, Delta, and the state of North Carolina. “We believe the project's success was due not only to SEM's experienced solar PV engineering and installation team, but also to the collaborative relationships developed with Delta and the local utility,” notes Kingery.