Have you seen the latest news about SolarCity’s deal with the U.S. military to install solar on 160,000 military housing units?
CNN reported that the deal is 100% privately financed (with federal backing) and that SolarCity will put up to 160,000 rooftop solar installations on top of privately-run military housing complexes at 124 military bases across 34 states.
That is an astounding number of installations! Consider that there were only 16,000 solar installations in the past year, so this deal alone is a ten-fold increase (although there was no mention of how long it would take to complete that many installations).
While the CNN report was light on details, here’s what this deal means for you, me, and America:
1 – Solar Jobs! 160,000 solar installations should mean 6,000 solar jobs, plus the manufacturing jobs and the ongoing maintenance jobs.
2 – Enhanced National Security: Did you know that each major military installation strives to be completely self-sufficient? This usually means having local power generation that can isolate a military base from the civilian grid in the event of a crisis (or other domestic emergency). By installing solar panels on the service member homes, this self-sufficiency requirement becomes a lot easier to manage! Additionally, if there is a domestic emergency, anything that can be done to reassure soldiers that their families are taken care of is a good thing and means that they will be more focused on the mission at hand.
3 – American Clean Energy Leadership: The volume of installations means that the American market for installed solar panels will likely remain #1 for years to come. This is very important because researchers, designers, manufacturers , distributors, innovators, etc. all want to be close to the action. If the action is happening in the U.S., then we have a better chance of keeping that stuff (vs having it all move to China). Hopefully, the deal has a “Buy American” clause in it. However, I would not hold my breath on that one.
4 – Reduced Solar Costs and Increase Installations (beyond the military): Solar panel installation costs have been dropping every year. As solar installers and companies get more experience, they become more efficient. This massive amount of installations will provide the industry with a very experienced solar installer base that should then be able to turn their experience (and lower costs) loose on the private market.
5 – Good for the environment: Obviously, this is good for the environment if we will be able to generate a few hundred megawatts of electricity from renewable energy instead of coal, gas, or nuclear power.
I am excited about this deal! This is smart government! Not small and not big government but smart government at work. As it stands right now, the federal government will not lay out any money for all of the above benefits (granted they are accepting risk by guaranteeing the loans). Good job to the military employees that put this deal together!
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Learnt a lot from your site
Nice work guys, I learnt a lot about solar energy on your site.
Brilliant, I agree with Tampa about using solar energy on all public buildings and also goverment buildings. I would also like to say what a great article by Sean.
I am excited about this deal! This is smart government. Not small and not big government but smart government at work.
Thank you all for your positive feedback. We are always happy to help our current and future students!
Superb! Generally I never read whole articles but the way you wrote this information is simply amazing and this kept my interest in reading and I enjoyed it.
Tremendous work! You own the talent of creative writing. I personally liked the way it has been drafted. Thanks for explaining solar clearly.
That is excellent! Hopefully the usage of solar panels will expand to other areas and structures as well. It’d be great to use them on all public buildings.
This is Great News
Oh this is really a good news, many energy serving resources are now getting into extinct, so we have to think for some substitute, and I guess solar is one of them that can be used for the same. I appreciate U.S. military ‘s decision to install solar system in their hubs, if such government organization takes the leap then common men will also be giving it a think. Great job U.S. military.
1. If they did a 4 KW array on each home that would be about 640 MW, or about the amount of power produced from a medium sized coal/natural gas power plant.
2. The government doesn’t pay for the modules, but I wonder how they are going to reconcile this with the varying ages of roofs on military homes around the country.
3. 160,000 has to be only a fraction of the military housing in the US. There are 550,000 soldiers in the active duty army alone. Granted, many of those live in barracks and off post housing, but I have to believe that there’s still quite a few houses to go.
4. If nothing else this will raise the profile of solar in the military. Think how much easier it will be to get units to adopt solar for power generation while deployed if half of the people in the unit have lived in a house with solar on the roof and an inverter in the garage.
5. $344 million divided by 160,000 means they’re spending $2150 per home. If that’s the case these won’t be very large systems on the roof of each house (maybe 1KW) unless money is getting pulled in from somewhere else aside from the loan funding. If that’s the case my estimate from earlier goes from 640 MW to 160 MW. Still substantial but far smaller.
6. 6000 jobs means 27 systems per job created. Obviously there will be a lot of admin in those jobs but I don’t think it will take them more than a few years to put all these systems up.
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