In a clear sign of things to come, the state of Arizona is set to host a gigantic 2.4 megawatt solar installation on the roof of a food warehouse packed with energy-gobbling refrigerated space. The property owner, Cowley Companies, Inc., is apparently looking to give itself a serious edge in terms of attracting and keeping tenants. The new solar installation will provide electricity about 25% cheaper than conventional rates, and it will enable tenants to identify their brand with the new sustainable future. The announcement comes on the heels of an ominous warning by the U.S. Department of Defense, which foresees a near-term squeeze on oil supplies that could jack up the cost of oil but would leave solar-reliant energy users like Cowley’s tenants sitting pretty.
The announcement also closely follows the Massey coal mine disaster, which has finally pulled the curtain off the true cost of our continued reliance on coal. Climate change deniers are really whistling in the wind when it comes to the energy future of the United States. We are slowly but surely unhooking from the fossil fuel economy and hitching our wagon to a new future that explores heretofore untapped resources, and that means mining the solar power riches of rooftops from coast to coast.
Empire Power Systems, Solar Power…and Caterpillar
The system installer is Empire Power Systems, which has been in the business of installing backup power for large buildings for about 60 years. Just a couple of years ago it launched a renewable energy division which makes sense because the company is a division of Empire Southwest, the authorized Caterpillar dealer for Arizona and other parts of the Southwest, and Caterpillar in turn is making a commitment to sustainability by leading in the development of hybrid electric off-road heavy duty vehicles. But I digress…
SunPower and Solar Power
The new solar power installation will be constructed on an 850,000 square foot roof in Phoenix, covering about 6.5 acres. It will use the T5 Solar Roof Tile system developed by solar industry giant SunPower, which is an easy-installation system that comes complete with a solar panel, frame and mounting. The panels tilt at a five degree angle to improve efficiency over flat-set panels.
Catching up to DESERTEC
At 2.4 megawatts, the Phoenix installation is a blip on the screen compared to the massive international solar project DESERTEC, which envisions a network of solar power plants in the African desert to supply power to Europe. Well the U.S. has plenty of deserts, too, so if paid lobbyists like Freedomworks would just step aside and stop trying to get in the way of green-minded companies, we’ll have plenty of our own solar power – and lots of new green jobs, to boot. Hey Freedomworks, what’s so wrong with creating jobs?
Image: Arizona sunset by Tony the Misfit on flickr.com.
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