Imagine being a small business owner in the nation’s capital, a business owner who spent thousands of dollars installing a solar thermal system on your one-story building to provide your hot water and space heating needs. Everything hums along nicely for the first 14 months or so, and then your neighbor surprises you by adding a second story to his building that effectively blocks your access to the sun, reducing the efficiency of your solar thermal system. Well, that may change thanks to a recent proposal by a local D.C. Council member.
Councilman David Grosso has introduced a bill designed to protect individual “Solar Access Rights” with the establishment of a ‘solar easement’ of sorts. Should the bill become law, it would guarantee individual building owners the right to unobstructed access to the sun for the purposes of solar energy harvesting. The bill would stipulate that access to the sun from a building owner’s rooftop could not be obstructed by neighboring structures or anything else existing on their properties. In cases where access to the sun is unavoidably blocked, the affected property owner would be compensated for financial losses.
The legislation may sound absurd to those who do not live in Washington D.C., but residents know full well what this is all about. The city has seen a substantial surge in row house pop-ups in recent years, a trend that is beginning to cause problems with current solar users.
What is a row house pop up? It is a standard row house that has an additional floor or two added to it to increase usable space. Building up is popular in Washington due to the high cost of real estate and a lack of space for building out. Unfortunately, building up can block neighbor access to the sun.
The D.C. Department of the Environment says there are now more than 1,600 solar installations in the city. They expect that number to grow as solar thermal technology is introduced to more business owners. The city council wants to be proactive in ensuring solar rights in order to avoid large investments in solar applications that could otherwise become useless through local neighborhood growth.
Solar Thermal Is the Answer
We will have to wait and see whether the proposed legislation in Washington ever becomes law or not. It will be interesting to know what happens around the country should that be the case. In the meantime, however, it is important for us to continue making the point that solar thermal is the answer to our quest for reliable renewable energy. Solar thermal’s many benefits make it, in our opinion, the best renewable energy platform on the market.
Unlike other systems, solar thermal does not convert direct sunlight into electricity. Rather, it uses ultraviolet energy from the sun to heat a thermal liquid that can then be used to provide space heat or hot water. It is a much more efficient and productive use of solar energy for commercial and industrial purposes.
In the U.S., solar thermal applications are mostly single applications for individual buildings. However, there are places around the world where the technology is being adapted for large-scale power generation. This shows just how successful solar thermal is.
We invite you to contact Solar America Solutions for more information about our SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel and peripheral hardware. We can install a system on your building with footprint space requirements of just 3′ x 7′ per collector panel. Take advantage of the sun to provide the space heat and hot water your building needs.
- Washington Business Journal – http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/breaking_ground/2015/03/sun-block-d-c-bill-would-require-compensation-when.html