John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-6355 or 604-9000


Release: 00-29AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover Earth Day 2000
events at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, scheduled on
Thursday, April 20. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from
Highway 101, drive east to the main gate at Moffett Federal Airfield and
report to the visitor badging office for maps and directions to the Moffett
Training and Conference Center, Bldg. 3, Ballroom and to the 80-by-120-foot
Wind Tunnel. U.S. media representatives must have valid picture ID in
order to enter Ames. Foreign media representatives must be escorted.

A pilot project to make electricity from the Sun at NASA’s Ames
Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley, will be announced
on Thursday, April 20, 2000, by government officials as part of Earth Day
activities at the center. Earth Day 2000 will officially be celebrated on
Saturday, April 22.

A series of talks related to the environment and energy are also
scheduled from 8:40 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PDT April 20 at the Moffett Training
and Conference Center ballroom, Bldg. 3 at Ames. Reporters may also
observe a large wind turbine from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT in the
world’s largest wind tunnel, Bldg. N-221B, where engineers are conducting
tests of the machine.

NASA Ames, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), City of Palo Alto, CA,
and other government officials will be on hand at 1:00 p.m. PDT when a
small solar-powered water pump and an electric bulb are activated near
Bldg. 3 during a ceremony to announce a new solar-electric project. NASA
officials expect construction of the demonstration solar-electric plant at
Ames to be completed by late summer.

“The four-kilowatt generation plant will make more than 7,000
kilowatt hours of electricity per year,” said Steve Frankel, an engineer
spearheading the project. “The plant will be on the roof of Bldg. N245,
and the solar-electric power will go into the NASA Ames power system.”

“This solar-electric system will reduce green-house-gas emissions
in the local area,” Frankel said. “The project is part of President
Clinton’s Million Solar Roof Initiative; it is in response to a challenge
issued in June 1997 by the President to all federal agencies to help create
viable markets for solar-energy equipment and products.”

The initiative calls for the U.S. Department of Energy to lead an
effort to place one million solar energy systems, including photovoltaic
and solar hot water systems, on the roofs of buildings and homes across the
United States by 2010.

“What’s nice about this Ames project is that it happens to be the
right size. The President’s challenge calls for projects of two-kilowatt
generation capacity or larger units,” said Frankel. “We think the system
will have a life of about 25 years or more with virtually no maintenance.
This system takes sunlight and turns it directly into electricity. It will
go into the building’s power system. During the off hours, the system will
shut off, and the conventional power system will take over,” Frankel

“It should be done by August. It will be installed by a NASA
contractor, and the equipment is commercially available. We plan to post
the DOE plans and a generic parts list on the Internet so anybody can learn
from our experience,” said Frankel.

“DOE measured light levels on the roof, and made the economic analysis,”
Frankel noted. Palo Alto granted NASA $20,000 for the project, he said.
In addition, NASA will make up the balance of the cost to construct and
operate the pilot plant, and the Department of Energy will design the
system, according to Frankel. More information about the Million-Roof
Project is available on the Internet at:

A series of talks in the ballroom in Bldg. 3 at Ames begins at 8:40
a.m. PDT. “The morning session focuses on renewable energy; the afternoon
session focuses on pollution prevention,” said Linda Vrabel of Ames. “The
morning session will describe the recent changes to the utility companies
brought about by energy deregulation. At a grass roots level, this session
presents the effects of deregulation on the individual’s choice of power
companies,” Vrabel explained.

Among the many scheduled speakers are Kari Smith, of the Center for
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, who will speak at 9:30 a.m.
PDT; and Vincent Schwent, California Energy Commission, slated to speak at
10:00 a.m. PDT. The afternoon session is devoted to the presentation of
practical steps employees can make towards purchasing green products,
according to Vrabel.

About 20 organizations including the Environmental Protection
Agency, the General Services Administration, several green-power utility
companies, green-power installers, various transit authorities, alternative
transportation groups and other companies will provide displays for Ames
Earth Day activities. Organizers say that a half dozen electric cars are
also scheduled to be among the displays. Ames Earth Day 2000 events are
open to on-site employees, media representatives and members of the Silicon
Valley Manufacturing Group’s environmental committee, which is
co-sponsoring the event.