Monday, December 9, 2013
NRG Energy hopes to address this for businesses and developers that want to invest in on-site solar: either to reduce their dependence on an unreliable grid or to cut their power bills. The company has created a preconfigured, modular kit aimed at speeding sales and deployments for one of the more familiar small-installation formats — the solar canopies you see shading parking lots or school stadium bleachers (at least if you live in New Jersey like I do).
The company actually dreamed up the idea after Superstorm Sandy, when massive grid outages kept parts of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut without power for weeks. “We believe in bringing renewable energy solutions – like the NRG Solar Canopy – to customers in new and innovative ways that extend beyond the rooftop so customers are not limited in their approach to energy independence,” said Tom Doyle, president and CEO of NRG Solar.
Initially, NRG’s canopy — which is produced by its Sunora Energy Solutions division — comes in four configurations with generating capacities ranging from 2.44 kilowatt-hours per day to 7.32 kilowatt-hours per day. The dimensions vary (see the photos), but the smallest one is 7.5 feet high by 27 feet long.
NRG has installed demonstration units at its headquarters in Princeton, N.J., and at Philadelphia-based Greensgrow Farms.
Plus, the massive hotel company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has committed to installing them on certain properties: they can be customized to match a given property’s design. You’ll see them pop up as luxury pool cabanas, golf shacks, shaded recreation areas, car ports, and covered food and beverage facilities. The company’s intention is to reduce its power bills, plus offer a “design element to our properties which can add to our guest experience,” said Andrea Pinabell, director of sustainability and global citizenship.
The canopies come with an optional back-up battery that keeps them running for up to 1.5 days if the power grid is knocked out. A residential line is planned for 2014, based on the same configurations.
Note: This post was updated Nov. 11 to correct the amount of solar energy generated on an ongoing basis.