The N.C. Solar Center has been renamed after 26 years of market development and jobs training to reflect a broader mission that now encompasses biofuels, green buildings and smart grids.
The change to the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center comes at a time that solar power is no longer an experimental concept and North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation for solar energy capacity.
The name change will also help the center, which is part of N.C. State University’s engineering college, apply for a wider spectrum of federal and foundation grants.
“What we’re really trying to do is get the name and charter updated to reflect what we actually do,” said Stephen Kalland, the center’s executive director.
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The center’s funding from North Carolina has dropped from $1.5 million in 2007 to $420,000 this year, increasing its dependence on grants and fees to finance operations. During the lean years, the center’s staffing fell from 42 to 19 before stabilizing at 26 this year.
The center’s total budget was $2.65 million last year and financed a number of projects, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s DSIRE website, a database of state incentives for renewables and efficiency programs.
The center is also the DOE’s Southeastern center for combined heat and power applications. In addition, the Center is in the midst of distributing $4 million in federal grants to develop local and regional infrastructures for clean vehicles, including electric, natural gas and biofuel-powered cars.