The Marines are marching to the beat of solar hot water. Read this NPR report for more details, but the gist is that the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina is putting solar hot water heaters on its on-base housing units.
These houses are generally rented to Marines with families, but the report says that the base will be using solar hot water for other base facilities as well, such as the hospital. The Marines don’t actually buy the solar panels, but instead are using a relatively rare solar hot water power purchase agreement (solar PPA).
Solar PPA arrangements are rare with solar hot water systems, but much more common with solar electric (PV) systems. With a PPA, the solar company installs the systems for little to no up front cost, but the panels are not owned or maintained by Camp Lejeune. Instead, the panels are owned by the installer. So how does the installer make money?
Basically, by becoming a mini-utility. With today’s solar hot water monitoring systems, the solar installer can remotely measure exactly how much solar hot water is being generated by the home’s solar panels. Then, similar to a utility, the home owner is charged a rate per therm of solar hot water generated.
To see a live example of a solar hot water monitoring system, check out our own Apollo1 monitoring system from Sun Reports. The data you see here is live and coming from the our 7000 series solar collectors that are installed on the roof of our San Jose headquarters.
Just like buying versus leasing a car, you’ll save more money over the long run when buying rather than PPA structures. That’s especially true with all of the rebates and incentive programs available right now.
For more information about innovative solar financing or any financial questions about solar hot water for your home or business, please contact us. At Free Hot Water, we sincerely want our customers to understand solar economics as well as solar technology.