Plastic Manufacturer’s Solar Panels Benefit Environment
Microdyne Plastics Inc., a plastics manufacturing company in Colton, California, has made the commitment to the use of renewable energy with the largest solar panel installation in the city’s history. As a manufacturing facility Microdyne Plastics, Inc. has high energy requirements, but the 2,600 solar panels installed on the plant’s roof are expected to reduce future energy costs by 35 percent, according to Microdyne Plastics Inc., Chief Executive Ron Brown. Brown said that the $4.7 million project was funded by a combination of money from the City of Colton and the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“The panels cover about 90 percent of the plant’s rooftop, including walkways,” said Guillermo Santomauro of SolarMax. He explained that the average size instillation for a medium sized business is 30 kW.
Rather than just produce cost and natural resource saving energy for the injection and blow molding company’s former $500,000 annual expenses, the system delivers enough energy for 500 homes. So not only does the company benefit from a technology that produces no emissions that traditional fossil fuel energy sources emit, but it also produces enough energy to become a local source of power.
The discovery of solar power dates back to 1839 and it was introduced to residences in Florida and southern California in the 1920s with the use of “flat collectors,” or panels that gathered the sun’s rays to heat indoor water. Since then solar power has become a viable option to reduce the harmful environmental effects of energy consumption, along with other renewable sources
In 2004 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a Solar Roofs Initiative, with the hopes of using solar power on one million roofs in California by 2017. Two years later a new world record was achieved in solar cell technology as new solar cells are considered 40 percent efficient in regards to the solar to energy barrier, making the energy created by solar panels more efficient than ever before.
Because the California sun is the only needed source for the panels on the roof of Microdyne Plastics Inc. to generate this power, the energy savings in the long haul must be considered by such an expensive project. The company is currently leasing the solar panels from Solar Max with the option to buy within 3 years. By then Brown anticipates that the company would gain the needed savings to purchase the panels.
Now that 7 years have passed since the installation of the solar panels on the roof of Microdyne, the plastic manufacturing company has had some time to review the benefits of the panels on the business. Microdyne Plastics, Inc. has reported that the biggest impact that the solar panels have made is probably the environmental impact reduction offered by the panels.
The panels not only reduce the natural resource consumption that Microdyne would require to power its manufacturing facility, but they also allow the company to generate energy, which in effect actually supplies power to the local grid. Therefore, Microdyne has not only effectively eliminated its consumption of city energy, it actually is able to help supply needed energy to the local area while reducing their environmental impact, or as some frequently name it, their carbon foot print.
Is Your Home or Building ready for Solar?
If you are interested in joining companies like Microdyne who are dedicated to using new and renewable forms of energy, first you should consider several points.
First, you must ask yourself if your building is already energy efficient. If upgrades are needed, such as changing out old appliances, these should be performed first.
Second, look to see if your location is one that receives a lot of sunlight. Is your rooftop shaded from the sun by trees or other buildings? If there is an exposed area on your building that is able to receive a high amount of southern exposure, you may want to consider installing solar panels.
Last, visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s In My Backyard Solar Mapping Tool at www.nrel.gov/eis/imby for estimates on the cost and energy production for your building.