edison solar warehouseSouthern California Edison has installed the first few of over 100 planned commercial rooftop solar installations in the Los Angeles area. As part of the largest program of its kind in the nation, SC Edison is renting about 1.5 square miles of industrial rooftops in southern California for solar panel installation. These “solarhouses” will create enough electricity to power 162,000 homes.

Edison recently finished its first installation in Fontana, a city just east of LA. That system consists of 33,700 thin-film solar panels covering nearly 600,000 square feet of roof space. Up to 125 additional warehouse roofs will be draped in solar panels. Over the next five years, some 250 megawatts of solar power will be installed under the utility’s program.

Traditionally utilities, which in California are required to get 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, relied on third parties to install solar arrays on rooftops or in open space and sell the electricity to the utility. But in 2008, utilities themselves became eligible for federal tax credits, an incentive that is subtly changing the solar industry dynamic.

One major benefit of installing large-scale PV installations on warehouses is the lack of new transmission costs. Rather than building several new transmission lines to deliver the power from a remote location to the urban point of use, all Edison had to do for its first rooftop was run a wire from the solar array to an existing power line nearby. Transmission hurdles, as well as environmental opposition, are delaying large-scale solar thermal projects in the desert — projects once thought (and still thought by some) to be the cheaper and quicker way to harness solar power on a utility scale. But those obstacles combined with tax incentives and dramatically falling PV module costs have facilitated the start of programs like SC Edison’s. Utilities in North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico and Arizona have started similar but smaller programs.

Edison will pay building owners around $20,000 per megawatt per year for rent. One such owner is ProLogis, a Denver-based international warehouse owner that already has solar panels on some of its roofs in Europe. Warehouses provide a unique and expansive opportunity for PV installations. They often sit in expanses of similar rooftops with plenty of sun exposure (the Fontana roofs sit amidst 9 million square feet of warehouse roof space), and each roof can hold a massive amount of solar panels. If there is only one caveat, it is that the roof must be five years old or less so it’ll be sure to last the 20-year lifespan of the panels.

Story and Photo Via: USA Today

CalFinder's Home Solar Power website offers homeowners the chance to learn everything needed about solar power. Offering a residential solar blog with the latest news in solar technology, a library breaking down the technical side of solar power panels, and helping homeowners find solar contractors to install them!

Link to original post