Print 88 comment(s) - last by Cerin218.. on Sep 21 at 3:35 PM

San Ramon Valley Unified School District installs 10k photovoltaic panels at five schools

In a move that is proving to be controversial with some, some California school districts are looking to a high-tech way to save money, even if the payback won't be achieved until well over a decade later. CNN is reporting that some California school districts are looking to low-interest federal loans to install solar panels on schools.

CNN singled out the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, which has installed roughly 10,000 photovoltaic panels at five of its 35 total schools at a cost of $23 million. Under the most optimistic projections, the photovoltaic panels would offset energy usage at the schools by 67 to 75 percent. 

According to spokesman Terry Koehne, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District will pay back the loans courtesy of the energy savings from using the solar installations. However, this won't be a quick payback for the school system -- it will take roughly 16 years to break even on the photovoltaic panels.

Koehne, however, points to the upside of embarking on this expensive venture; "It's pure profit after that. And following that, we're going to start realizing savings of $2 (million), $3 (million), $4 million a year."

Like many schools across the nation, California schools are facing a serious budget crunch. Less money means fewer teachers, fewer teaching assistants, and more students per classroom. By making this move now, the school district is hoping that the future payoff will allow it use its resources more wisely. 

Lower production costs, thanks to stiff competition from Chinese companies, is causing a surge in the adoption of solar panels. One of the causalities of the race to the bottom in panel costs was Silicon Valley-based Solyndra. The company received a rushed $535 million loan courtesy of the Obama industry during 2009 in order to bolster its operations.

However, the company two years later filed for bankruptcy and axed over 1,000 employees. Interestingly, an email that was sent out before final approval of the loan was granted rightly projected that the company would run out of money by September 2011. 

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By sleepeeg3 on 9/19/2011 2:17:09 AM , Rating: 0
Not true. They won't break even ever ! Current solar technology is not cost effective.

The nameplate capacity of the panels for the San Ramon district is 3MW. At $23M for 3MW nameplate capacity @ 20% efficiency, costs work out to be $4.75/kWh*. This compares to California's commercial utility rate of ~$0.12kWh. On top of this, these panels will only provide 2/3 of the power of the schools. They are also paying interest on the loans. Finally the panels lose efficiency and have to be replaced every 25 years.

What does this mean? Taxpayers are paying millions of dollars to subsidize this. The good news for California? It is being financed by Obama money (American Recovery & Reinvestment Act) so the entire US is paying to subsidize these California schools' wasteful spending.

*Math: ($25,000,000 / ((365.25 days * 24 hours/1000W) * 3,000,000 nameplate capacity * 0.2 efficiency)

RE: Bad economic analysis once more
By brybir on 9/19/2011 9:10:46 AM , Rating: 2
Solandri pointed out the flaw in your math in your previous post (which you seem to have copy and pasted):

"You left off the number of years the $25M investment will be in use.

$25,000,000 / ((30 years * 365.25 days * 24 hours/1000W) * 3,000,000 W peak * 0.2 capacity factor)
= $0.158 / kWh"

And depending on the interest rate they are paying, the cost per kWh may end up quickly being less than the actual cost of power in a few years if historical trends are any indication.

By sleepeeg3 on 9/19/2011 8:33:48 PM , Rating: 1
No error. That is the total cost. See my response above for per year costs. There is more that factors in to it, but I originally left it for people to figure out. Bottom line is that it is absurdly expensive that taxpayers are paying for.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

Most Popular ArticlesAMD, Zen Processor might power the upcoming Apple MacBook Pro
September 30, 2016, 5:00 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Are you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Apple’s Siri Speaker is a Game Changer
September 26, 2016, 5:00 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki