Solar Power in the Big City

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

English: On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis...

On my recent internship with a renewable-energy company, I got to work with some really cool people, putting together a bunch of solar power systems all around New York City. Most of these were on small, flat rooftops of apartment or multi-family buildings – but every single one of these systems will allow the owner’s homes to become energy-efficient. They won’t have to pay electric bills ever again, and if they have a sunny enough year, the electric companies may even pay them for their energy. Plus, you can’t put a price on helping the environment!

So now you’re probably thinking that these panels MUST take up a ton of space. Well, they really don’t – take a look for yourself:

Not that big!

A solar energy system in Harlem, NYC.

It’s a common misconception that solar poweris expensive, requires extensive and expansive space, and is just generally impractical for home use. Well, I’m about to walk you through how easy it really is, so be prepared to blow these misconceptions away.Many people think about solar energy as being created on these big solar farms out in wide open spaces. They often assume that it can only be cost-effectivewhen companies collect it in mass quantities, and that these panels will only work best in the open air. But the cool thing is, solar energy is completely affordable AND effective in almost any situation, including inner-city rooftops.

This system is actually on the larger side, with a little over 30 panels. But think about this – this is going to power an entire 5-floor apartment complex. For a smaller home, less than half of these panels would be needed. And don’t worry about them being an eyesore – in case you don’t want all of your neighbors to be looking up and admiring your green-saviness, they can easily be built to be nearly invisible from the street – in fact, one of the projects I helped out on was on a historically-registered building, so legally the panels HAD to be unseen from street level.

On a final note, I just want to re-emphasize the incredible benefits of solar energy. It’s clean and green, will end your electric utility bills for good, and your initial investment, which is not to large (and which the government can help subsidize for up to half) will be completely recovered by your energy-bill savings within 5 years. And of course, the panels aren’t much of an eyesore, and don’t take of that much room. What could possibly get better? I say, make converting to solar your NEW New Year’s resolution.

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at how these systems work and are constructed!

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