Petra Solar’s SunWave systems are now installed on poles in a test facility at Tampa Electric, an investor-owned utility based in Tampa.

The electric company said that it is committed to supplementing its energy portfolio with renewable energy sources and is exploring options that are cost-effective and enhance the company’s delivery of electric power to its 667,000 customers in an area of more than 2,000 square miles in West Central Florida.

This collaboration, the first step in establishing a commercial relationship, is one of several Petra Solar pilot projects underway in North America. The company is engaged with more than 40 additional utilities that have expressed interest in the SunWave system.

Petra Solar also is currently fulfilling a $200m contract with PSE&G, New Jersey based utility company, to provide SunWave systems for installation on 200,000 streetlight and utility poles. When completed in 2012, the project will contribute 40MW to PSE&G’s generation capacity.

In order to evaluate the Petra Solar system, Tampa Electric installed the SunWave solar systems in its utility test yard. The panels, which weigh 55 to 65 pounds and can be installed in less than 30 minutes, were mounted to wood and concrete utility poles and aluminum streetlight poles. Tampa Electric apprentice linemen installed the solar panels.

Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric, said: “We are pleased to participate in this study with Petra to determine how to better integrate solar photovoltaic installations into our service territory. The study also will help us better understand how to utilize this technology with future Smart Grid applications.”

Dr Shihab Kuran, CEO and president of Petra Solar, said: “We’re proud to team up with Tampa Electric to move ahead with our newest pilot project. Our SunWave systems turn utility poles into solar generators.

“The systems provide Smart Grid capabilities through real-time communications between solar generators in the field and the utility control center. In addition, they enhance electric distribution grid reliability to help stabilize the grid during periods of increased load.”