Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Solar Questions

The Howard County library wants to put solar panels on the roof of its East Columbia branch, part of a $100,000 budget request by HoCo exec Ken Ulman to put the equipment on county-owned buildings, according to a brief item in the Examiner (sorry we could not locate a link).

The Examiner reported that the panels would be similar to those installed at Merriweather, which are projected to save the venue 15 percent on its electricity bill. And they could go up on the library in 2008.

We've got a big flat roof here at Columbia Talk headquarters and we've curious about the math. How long would it take to recoup the cost of the panels in energy savings? What's the life expectancy?

Any solar experts out there?


Jessie N said...

Shouldn't the County have already calculated those numbers, Mr. Columbia Talk? Or wouldn't they at least do so before approving such an expenditure? Surely, no one would request such an extravagant expenditure just to be sexy, hip or cool? Perhaps someone from the County will post the information here. I'm also curious.

Robin Abello said...

It typically takes many years to recover the cost (last time I did a calculation on a typical home solar panel installation it takes about 10 years), but there are now local, state and federal tax credits for installing solar panels (and other green energy solutions) that reduce the cost dramatically. If the library qualifies for those tax credits, it wouldn't take as long to recover the cost. Plus the library is probably looking at other intangible benefits besides just cost in this project. If you're looking for a local expert, the folks over at the Green Building Institute in Jessup would be a good source.