As a young man I had an aircraft washing business, way back then in the late 70s I thought that those new solar cells coming to market ought to be on top of every aircraft hangar, and that the down-spouts from the rain gutters should catch all the water so I could use it to wash the planes. Funny how kids think, but I guess if I mentioned that now, no one would think I was crazy, they’d say something like; “of course, you should save the water and generate power from solar.”
Well, today everyone is into the environment, and even though I am not an environmentalist, we really should be efficient in all we do, so I am on board with what makes sense when it makes sense and is dollar for dollar cost effective. I don’t believe in energy shortages, there is plenty of energy in the Universe, there is not shortage in reality and certainly not from a scientific or philosophical standpoint. So, if it makes sense do it, if not don’t and leave the bickering for the Sierra Club, I say.
During my business career, I had also gotten into the truck washing business. Truck washes have huge roofs, and that’s a lot of space. I mentioned this the other day to an acquaintance and the concept of putting solar panels on top. Now most truck wash mechanisms use a lot of energy, the big robotic stuff, but not the other types of equipment, as some has hydraulic assist, and little pumps feed the soap barely a couple of amps. The high pressure pumps use a decent amount of energy, but the lighting if LED wouldn’t. So could you run the whole truck wash all day on solar, if you did the entire roof?
Hard to say, my thinking is no, but heck it might be close and that makes it very intriguing. Also, just the fact that you were willing to do that might help you at the planning commission, most of those folks have mandates and they like green, lean, and mean building projects, we all know that. You see, these cities love the whole LEEDS approach, and they love solar, put a couple of vertical wind-turbines on the property and they’ll love it, hopefully it can sail through planning?
Are there any drawbacks? Well, yes, I suppose for instance something I’ve noticed is that the unions have kind of hijacked the LEEDS certified construction companies, this means you get penalized for doing what’s best, you pay more in costs, as you have to hire the unionized firms, this means a longer ROI to pay for the increased costs, which is a challenge for a new truck wash.
Consider TX, NM, AZ, CA, FL and other Sun Belt states, plenty of Sun to make it all work. Remember, a building that size has a very good amount of unencumbered square feet up there, it’s perfect for solar, and with that in mind slope the roof appropriately with sun tracking systems. It seems like a good idea.
Indeed, I just wish the next generation or two of solar technology would become available, I see folks at MIT are really coming along well with some decent efficiency conversion percentages, numbers are way up now. All the Universities are right on the breakthrough, but I think we made some mistakes out there with government funded mega-loans to crony capitalist insiders, which is coming back to give the industry a black eye.
Well, please consider all this and think on it, email me if you’d like to talk some more?