Solar is here!

Solar power is here
Freshly installed solar panels sit on the roof of the Gaston County building that houses the Gaston County Police Department and other services on Thursday December 1, 2011. 

I recently had the privilege of photographing what the owners claim is the largest photovoltaic installation on a government building in the Southeast.

NARENCO, a company that already has an installation on the roof of a local commercial building, the National Gypsum facility in Mount Holly, is installing 3,122 photovoltaic panels on the roof of a Gaston County building in Gastonia whose main tenant is the Gaston County Police Dept.

This installation is rated to produce 740 KW of power that will be sold to the local utility provider Duke Energy. That's enough to power over 250 average American homes.

It's a little more than a token gesture, but not quite enough to save the world.

Sustainable energy is being put onto the grid, which means less coal is being burned. That's a good thing for everyone. But this is a perfect example of how sustainable energy can be green in more ways than one.

The county is making money by leasing the roof to NARENCO, it isn't a ton of money, but it's money they wouldn't have had otherwise.

And this shining example of how sustainable energy can be a win financially for local government and business is right here in my hometown. The same hometown that is installing electric car charging stations at several of it's parking areas and implementing new recycling initiatives (or at least trying to, but that's another story).

It is, I think, a piece of the future. As the cost of traditional energy goes up and the cost to manufacture PV panels decreases there will only be more projects like this popping up on roofs of buildings everywhere, or perhaps even serving a dual role shading parking lots.

It's inconspicuous, clean, green, and profitable, and the public response has been, from what I've seen, overwhelmingly positive.

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