Friday, March 26, 2010

Ellicott City District Court Goes Solar

The District Court Multi Service Center in Ellicott City will soon be powered by (at least partially) by solar panels provided by Beltsville based SunEdison. According to this article in The Daily Record, the Maryland Department of General Services signed a 20 year agreement with the company “that will lead to the installation of rooftop solar systems on five state-owned building sites.”

The other four state owned properties are in Annapolis, Elkton, Glen Burnie and Baltimore.

I called my favorite energy guru, Bert Wilson, to ask him how the economics of this work. I couldn’t quite figure out why a private company would want to invest this much money on a relatively small solar installation.

“With the 30% investment tax credit for installing the solar panels and the renewal energy credits the operator of the solar system can realize about a 20% return.”

Not bad.

Bert went on to point out that one of the best attributes of solar systems is that they produce power at times of peak demand, like when the sun is shining on a summer day and the a/c systems are blowing full blast.

Thanks Bert for shedding some light on this for me and the readers of Tales of Two Cities.


Joey said...

Actually, recent stuides on energy efficiency show that solar panels are really the fax machines of today's efficient energy sources. These studies argue that solar planels produce a very low amount of energy, while actually increasing CO2 levels due to heat and glare reflected off of their black surfaces.

I haven't fully subscribed to either philosophy, but deinitely important to address both sides, don't you think?

wordbones said...


"but deinitely important to address both sides, don't you think?"

Actually no.


Anonymous said...

Heat and glare create CO2? I'm not quite following the chemistry there...

Anyway, it's cool to see solar (no pun intended) being used for something more useful than trash compactors...

Anonymous said...

Solar is a part of any smart person's energy spreadsheet. needs to be a part of a balanced approach. Everyone is so extreme nowadays, it's hard to get to the point when this discussion can just make sense. We need solar, wind, geo, nuclear, natural gas, petroleum, coal, and bio-generated power. Oh, and nukes.

They all need to work together.

Does anyone read books or go to engineering school these days?

You just need to run the numbers.