Dolan Technology Center

Solar panel project - Replex Plastics Solar Array


A new project at the Dolan Technology Center (DTC), the Replex Plastics Solar Array, is testing the ability of mirror-augmented solar panels to increase energy output.

Replex Plastics, an AEP Ohio customer, makes high impact, high performance optical domes, mirrors and custom thermo-formed plastic parts. The company was interested in expanding marketing opportunities for its high impact mirrors—the same mirrors used on school buses which enable the driver to see children or objects in the road.

“Replex has been an AEP customer for over 20 years,” said Mark Schuetz, president, Replex Plastics. “We have participated in AEP’s energy efficiency programs and became an early partner in the gridSMART demonstration project.” From that relationship came the opportunity to meet with officials at Dolan to discuss Replex’s solar development projects.

Bob Burns, manager for the Dolan Technology Center said, “Dolan is the optimal site for this type of project. Most of the project materials and labor were purchased by Replex or donated by project participants. Dolan’s investment was limited to physical labor and the cost of two inverters,” he said.

The Solar Panel Array

Project participants and their contributions:
  • Dolan Technology Center – project site, grid interconnection, inverters, minor materials and physical installation
  • Replex Plastics – high-impact UVA mirrors (7) and purchase of solar panels and solar panel rack
  • Dovetail Solar and Wind – installation of the Solar Flex Rack (1)
  • Case Western Reserve – assists Replex in the development of mirror-augmented solar panel technology
Other equipment:
  • Hyundai Solar – 230W multi-crystalline solar panels provided by Replex (14)
  • Advanced Energy PVP2000 – 2000Watt Inverters provided by AEP (2)
  • GE Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) – provided by AEP to monitor energy production (3)


The array is located behind the Dolan Engineering Laboratory and took just three days to install. Day one consisted of rough wiring, boring holes and pouring concrete for the solar rack’s supporting poles. The second day included installation of the rack and completion of rough wiring. On day three the wiring was completed and the panels and mirrors were installed.

How it works

The solar panels are split into two separate rows mounted on a Solar Flex Rack. One row is placed at a 30 degree angle. The other row is placed at a 40 degree angle with mirrors mounted to the front of the panels at a 15 degree tilt. Each row is connected to its own inverter which measures energy production. Burns said a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in energy production is expected from the mirror-augmented panels (depending on the time of year and angle of the sun to the panels).

In addition, one AMI meter was installed for each row of panels. A third meter is attached to the Wattsun Solar Tracker which supports six Sharp 216W panels and has been in place at Dolan for several years. The Wattsun tracker rotates to follow the sun as it moves across the sky. The meters capture data in 15-minute intervals for each of the three arrays to provide a direct comparison of the energy produced for each separate array.

View this comparison of energy captured by solar panels on just one day on Dec. 12, 2012. The Replex fixed position, mirror-augmented panels produced more energy than the non-augmented panels. However, the rotating Wattsun tracker was able to capture more energy in the early portion of the day and at the end of the day while the fixed panels captured the sun's radiance at an angle.

According to Dave Hollingshead, Replex Plastics project engineer, the best way to gain confidence in the technology is to see it in action. The Dolan project is allowing Replex to understand the installation process and the costs involved, and to determine if the mirror-augmented panels perform better than standard panels. “The idea is to get more power output for dollar invested,” Hollingshead said.

Replex has installed several test systems at their headquarters in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The array at DTC is an extension of their research and development efforts. “This partnership between AEP and Replex will allow for additional data collection. And with the many visitors that we have at Dolan each year, they hope to expand their exposure and learning possibilities,” Burns added.

“It’s been fantastic working with Bob and everyone at Dolan,” Hollingshead said. “We are thankful to have the opportunity. I think it’s going to be a nice show piece for Dolan, AEP and Replex.