Despite economic pressure, the green roofing movement continues to gain popularity. Buildings of all shapes and sizes have jumped the bandwagon to join in big solar installation projects. Solar roofs offer great benefits for homes and buildings looking to reduce their carbon footprint and dependence on traditional energy sources. Even big name companies are joining in to become a few of the world’s largest solar projects.
The Google administration building currently boasts a 1.6 megawatt (MW) solar panel system capable of powering itself through daily operations. While the Google project was one of the first of its kind, its capacity has been dwarfed by several new projects in recent months. A 4.26 MW system in Edison, New Jersey and 5.38 MW system on the roof of a ToysRUs in Sunny, New Jersey currently hold the title for largest solar panel installation project in the United States. These two are also among the top five in the world. However, a leading innovator is trailing close behind.
Apple Inc. has plans to take the lead on the largest solar panel system in the United States, with a near 6MW system. Apple’s plans are to cover numerous buildings on their headquarter campus. The main building has a 750,000 square foot roof surface area, to which two-thirds will be made up of photovoltaic solar cells. This building alone is expected to produce nearly 5MW of the power by project’s end. Several other buildings at Apple will be covered by solar panels, including a 320,000 square foot of surface parking building. Apple is hoping to generate enough electricity to power its daily operations and store additional energy in a back up component.
Why The Controversy?
While many are happy to see energy conservation take a front seat in big corporations, others are less than thrilled by the news in such large solar projects. After a series of solar companies filed for bankruptcy in recent months, some are concerned that government backed funding of these corporations is being mismanaged. After all, how can such a lucrative industry lose profitability during peak demand? Regardless of whether solar companies are actually guilty of mismanaging their funds, the fact remains that American manufacturing will never be able to compete with foreign manufacturing companies. This isn’t the first time American based manufacturing has taken a hit because of fierce competition and slim profit margins because of cheap foreign labor. However, having government backed funds for American manufacturing systems is rare and becoming a cause of major concern for many. Only time will tell if large solar installation projects and the continued demand for solar roof systems is enough to resolve financial differences.