So how come this obvious idea is gaining mementum among condominium and co-op apartment owners and commercial business ownwers? Here's what I think:
- Rising frustration with politicians and utilities offering excuses or promising new renewable technologies tomorrow.
- A strong desire to directly take action now to mitigate rising electricity prices.
- A willingness to pay more for renewable energy
- Be more flexible when it comes to assessing the financial feasibility and payback period.
- It's doable and not science fiction- solar energy has been installed on building roof tops on the East and West Coasts. See successful installation in New York City or click below.
Roofs as Solar Collectors
Commercial, condominium and co-op apartment buildings have a lot going for them when it comes to producing their owne electricity and specifically solar energy projects. First, there is no need to build a transmission line to carry the power where it's needed. This is a major obstacle for both solar and wind projects built in remote areas. The building's inhabitants will use all or most of the power. Second, roofs are generally out of sight and out of mind. Some experts estimate that flat roof tops represent more than 1,000 square mile area. With this in mind, building owners have installed or are planning to install solar panels on their roofs to produce electricity. Here's why.
- A firm belief that electricity prices will constinue to rise
- Most systems are estimated to reduce a building's electricity by 10 to 30 percent.
- State and federal grants and tax incentives make the costs affordable.
- It usually takes between 7 and 12 years to pay back the investment.
- Solar panels usually come with a 25 year warranty and most will last 40 years. Therefore, the investment will produce electricity for many years for free after the loan is paid off.
Challenges of Solar Energy Roofs
The challenges that you will face are not really technical. The solar energy industry has been hard at work improving the technology. Aside from solar panels, the solar industry has actually been working with the roofing industry to produce building integrated solar panels for flat and metal roofs. There are also qualified solar energy companies to guide you in selecting the right type of system for your area.
Local governments and many States have excellent programs. However, they target single family homes for solar tax incentives and grants. So you may have to work with local and State politicians to get laws changed and convince State and federal agencies to award your apartment, condominium or commercial building a renewable energy grant.
We believe the first place to start is to see what renewable energy incentives are available where you live. The company that you choose to buy your solar system from and install it is also a good source of information. They may also be able to arrange financing.
Last but not least, call your US Congressman. Here is a list of members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Recent Solar Energy Roof Installations
There are several examples of commercial building owners who have installed solar panels on their roofs. View the Google solar project video to see what they did at their corporate headquarters and also