Archive for Friday, November 26, 2010

Douglas County Extension Office to use sunlight for energy, education

Chris Rogge, left, director of solar design with Cromwell Environmental, and Nick Gardner, installer, mount several solar panels on the roof of the Douglas County Extension Office building in this November 2010 file photo. The units will supply about 15 percent of the building’s energy and will also be used for educational purposes.

Chris Rogge, left, director of solar design with Cromwell Environmental, and Nick Gardner, installer, mount several solar panels on the roof of the Douglas County Extension Office building in this November 2010 file photo. The units will supply about 15 percent of the building’s energy and will also be used for educational purposes.

November 26, 2010

Advertisement

Solar panels installed at Douglas County offices

Solar panels were installed on the Douglas County Extension Service's building at the Douglas County fairgrounds Wed, Nov. 24, 2010. The panels will reduce the energy bill by about 15% and will provide an educational and promotional tool for the extension to promote energy conservation county-wide. Enlarge video

A lack of sun didn’t keep a freshly installed photovoltaic system from generating energy this week.

Crews from Cromwell Environmental placed 20 solar panels on the south-facing roof of Douglas County Extension Office, 2110 Harper St. Along with producing 15 percent of the building’s electricity over the next 25 years, the system will be used as an educational tool for the extension office.

“This is just an energy-saving appliance,” said Aron Cromwell, a Lawrence city commissioner and CEO of the company contracted to install the panels.

The $20,000 system, a quarter of the cost of which will be covered by a Kansas State Energy Office grant, is one of three solar projects Douglas County installed this year.

This summer, solar thermal panels were installed at Douglas County Jail, 3601 E. 25th St., to heat water. In the fall, the county completed a similar system at the Douglas County Youth Services building in North Lawrence. The two combined for a $19,996 contract.

These projects are already cutting down on Douglas County’s utility bills, the county and city’s sustainability coordinator, Eileen Horn, said.

From the beginning of June to the end of September, the solar thermal panels at the jail shaved off $538.51 from its natural gas bill. One of the jail’s five hot water systems had its natural gas usage dropped by 70 percent.

Savings are on track to meet the projected eight-year payback of the jail’s five solar panels, Horn said. She called the solar panels a “smart, appropriate application of renewable energy.”

As for the panels going up this week on the extension office building, energy savings are expected to cover their expense over 16 years and avoid producing 261,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years.

Beginning Wednesday, electricity was already trickling into the building.

Halfway through installing the panels on the extension office and under cloudy skies, crews switched on the solar panel inverter, a box that converts the solar panel’s direct current of electricity into the alternating current of electricity that is needed to power the building.

The meter read 33 watts.

“That’s enough for a compact fluorescent (light),” Cromwell said.

Comments

TNPlates 4 years, 8 months ago

Anyone know how many kilowatts these pv panels are rated at?

Chris Rogge 4 years, 8 months ago

There are 20 Sharp 224 Watt modules in this system, amounting to a total nameplate rating of 4.48 kilowatts.

TNPlates 4 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the details. That's a good size PV installation.

devobrun 4 years, 8 months ago

What's the over-under on 25 years? What's the CO2 emission to make and install these babies? What is the net CO2 budget? What is the net energy budget? These things don't just appear on the planet without some serious silicon processing. Those ovens are at 1200 C when purifying the silicon. They are at about 700 C when diffusing the P and N impurities.

And the conductor deposition, and passivation, and the glass protective cover, and the broken panels when the hail comes down, and the corroded connectors after about 8 years, and the inverter components, and the lightening protection and.....

Ah heck, all that is taken account of and factored in. That's why these things are flying off the shelves around the world. Why don't we all have them?

Lets see, at 5% interest compounded over 16 years, my $20 grand will return about $24 grand. That is, my return is about 1.2 times my original investment...plus my original investment. I'd rather have a 5% investment in a GE corporate bond than solar panel system in Kansas.

Sorry, the numbers don't make a solar electric panel attractive. The cost of such energy is much more than any other technology. And the return in CO2 savings isn't clear at all. Flim Flam alert.

parrothead8 4 years, 8 months ago

Clearly, the only concerns we should have regarding the future of our planet are financial ones.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

I bet you ask that of all new energy production facilities, right?

hornhunter 4 years, 8 months ago

I find it interesting that a city commissioner is also the CEO of the installation company. Conflict of interest?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

He's a city commissioner, not a county commissioner. At any rate, there's a long tradition of city commissioners doing city business, even if that isn't the case here.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.