neighborhood-solar-namasteeditors-blog-entry3No doubt about it, rooftop and parking lot are far and away the best type of solar.

That’s why it’s so exciting to hear that the U.S. Energy Department – which, so far, has provided economic backing for giant solar farms, some of them built, or to be built, in environmentally fragile areas, is officially throwing economic support behind rooftop solar.

Via an initiative aptly named “Project Amp”, the Energy Department will provide $1.4 billion to help install more than 700 megawatts of solar on industrial buildings across the U.S.

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750 industrial rooftops to get solar
Project Amp calls for the distribution of solar panels on about 750 industrial rooftops, many of which can literally be acres and acres in size.

All told, Project Amp aims to create enough rooftop solar-generated electricity to meet the annual energy needs of more than 88,000 homes while also avoiding 580,000 tons of harmful CO2 emissions per year.

“This unprecedented solar project will not only produce clean, renewable energy to power the grid in states across the country but it will help us meet the SunShot goal of achieving cost competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade,” noted U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

solar-rooftop-flickrRooftop solar’s capacity
Rooftop solar is capable of producing truly massive amounts of electricity, as recent analyses showing that it could meet up to 50% of Denver’s annual energy needs and about 15% of New York City’s (and up to 50% of NYC’s peak power needs) show.

Here’s why rooftop – and parking lot, as in solar carports, and, ideally, solar-powered EV charging stations, lots and lots of them – are just so damn cool:

  1. Local electricity. Power is generated locally, meaning it doesn’t have to travel far before it is used, sometimes, literally only a few feet. This means little to no loss of efficiency, in sharp contrast to power that’s produced far away from the point of use and which must travel miles and miles over transmission lines.

  2. Better for the environment. Rooftop and parking lot solar are installed over areas that are already environmentally altered or “damaged”. No need to dig up, tromp on, roll through, and alter wilderness areas here!
  3. Local jobs. Rooftop and parking lot solar generate local jobs right where you and I live, meaning they boost the economy where we need it most – close to home 🙂
  4. Democratic power production. Rooftop and parking lot solar – especially the former, are more democratic than the traditional mega-plant model of power production: Local homeowners/businesses make power for themselves and their neighbors as opposed to some giant, faceless, invisible utility and power plant far, far away producing this power.
  5. Energy efficiency. Rooftop and parking lot solar inspire energy efficiency. That’s because people are far more interested in how much electricity they consume when they, themselves, produce that electricity.

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Finally, rooftop solar is way cool because, well, we’ve got it ourselves 😉

Yes, we have 5.59 kW of solar on our Aurora, Colo. rooftop. It’s pumped out 8,600 kWh of electricity in its first year, enough to cover our 3,600 kWh of electric consumption plus 5,000 kWh of banked solar excess kWh that we’ll eventually use to power an electric vehicle, or possible two.

Now, if powering a household of four, plus two future electric cars with one’s own local rooftop solar system isn’t cool – nothing can beat home solar rooftop’s power production independence! – what is?

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