How Charlotte Is Going Solar

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Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock

The climate, the socioeconomic status and the spacious geography of Charlotte make solar possible in the Queen City. While Charlotte may not be the sunniest city in America, the city soaks up sunshine 62 percent of the days annually. 

As cities above the Arctic Circle are now actively installing solar panels and solar thermal heating systems, Charlotte homeowners, business owners and utilities should consider harnessing this ongoing natural resource to power their daily lives.

In 2007, North Carolina state government decided to legislatively commit to clean energy and required utility companies to adhere to a 12.5 percent clean energy quota by 2021. Now leading the nation in new clean energy job and solar installations, North Carolina has become a prime location for solar development.

Just outside of Charlotte, in Catawba County, Apple, Inc has commissioned Duke Energy to build another 20-MW solar station to power its data center in Maiden, NC. As more and more solar farms are appearing in rural North Carolina, different energy companies have started creating a competitive solar market within Charlotte. 

Based a few miles north of Charlotte, SBM Solar, Inc is advancing the silicon photovoltaic market by providing high-quality products and contracting with businesses and developers, such as the U.S. military. Other solar companies in Charlotte sell solar paneling more on a local, individual level. By consulting with clients on product type, space and dimensions of paneling, price, overview of payback period, total energy savings and environmental conditions —including average sunlight per area, wind speed and other climatic conditions—interested buyers can better understand the feasibility for solar panels in Charlotte, NC. Mostly connected by neighborhoods of apartment complexes and individual homes, Charlotte has land and roof space to increase solar paneling for the renewable sector.

Providing for the Charlotte community, Greenspring Energy works with customers to reduce their energy bills through clean and renewable energy products. The company collaborates closely with nonprofits and other community organizations, such as schools and churches, to offer flexible solar installation plans. Also, Greenspring Energy emphasizes the education component of better comprehending clean and renewable energy to reduce community and individual carbon and ecological footprints. 

Consulting Duke Energy, the N.C. Solar Center and the N.C Sustainable Energy Association are good resources when considering installing solar paneling in Charlotte. Sponsored by the N.C Sustainable Energy Association, the November 5-6, 2013 Making Energy Work conference brought together stakeholders in the clean and solar energy markets to learn about emerging technologies, hear about proposed laws and network with businesses, government officials and other energy leaders.

For the future, Charlotte has the possibility of helping North Carolina lead the nation in solar power by increasing city installments. Potential customers need to better understand the economical and environmental advantages in using solar power as well as the payback periods associated with product types. Tapping into the most powerful, renewable energy source, Charlotte residents, businesses and community organizations have the opportunity to sustainably power their buildings and infrastructures.

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Isabel Sepkowitz is a freelance writer. She is an environmentalist who values sustainability, education, and innovation for the emerging green economy. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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