Nexus EnergyHomes has installed the first sun-tracking solar device on the rooftop of a row house residence on Federal Hill in Baltimore. "With electricity prices reaching unprecedented rates, American home owners are demanding better energy choices," says Nexus CEO and President, Paul Zanecki. "This sun-tracker system is the first of its kind to offer higher performance results that make it that much easier to reach electric net-zero goals," he said. Nexus is based in Stevensville, Md.
The dual-panel tracker manufactured by Advanced Technology & Research Corp., which is based in Columbia, Md., consists of two 235-watt solar panels attached to a sun-tracking mount affixed to the roof. An advanced GPS-controlled drive unit rotates the panels to follow the sun and capture 30 to 45 percent more energy than conventional fixed panels on a flat roof.
Rising energy costs create demand
In 2010, Maryland residential customers paid an average of 24 percent (14.32/kW) more than the national average (11.54/kW per hour) for energy. USA Today reported in December that 2010 marked the fifth national consecutive yearly increase in electricity rates, adding an average of $300 per year to household electricity bills. That trend is expected to rise over the next decade.
Solar lowers electric bills
Carl Chirichella, the row house home owner and an engineer for ATR, was initially intrigued by the technology but says the financial incentives were also very compelling to him as a homeowner. "Utilizing the dual-panel tracker is an innovative solution to generating on-site renewable energy within the small footprint that city living affords," he said. Chirichella can expect to see a nearly 20 percent reduction in his electric bill with just the one dual-panel system installed so far. Five such systems would allow him to achieve an electrical net-zero balance for his home — eliminating the electrical bill, and potentially offering him energy credits, that if unused, can be returned for use by the BGE utility grid.
Financial incentives beyond the reduction or elimination of power bills include solar renewable energy certificates, clean energy grants, and residential renewable energy tax credits. These incentives combined with monthly energy savings will allow homeowners to recoup their solar investment in about 5 years. After that, the system is paid for and will supply free electric power for many years.
"The Federal Hill area is a perfect market for this technology, and our installation at the Chirichella residence allows us to provide accurate documentation of the savings that will be achieved by ATR's Dual-Panel Tracker, since Mr. Chirichella is one of their engineers," said Zanecki. Home to many tech professionals and earth-conscious progressives, Federal Hill residents are looking for ways to reduce their reliance on fossil-fuels, and live a greener, more cost-efficient lifestyle, while still enjoying the vital urban lifestyle Baltimore has to offer.
Read more about solar power for homes.