by Susan Kraemer
[ Originally published on Clean Technica ]
When the 30% tax credits as cash grants were instituted with the American Recovery Act, I was doing solar estimates for a small solar start-up in California. I was surprised to find that the 30% solar tax credit (available as a cash grant for businesses) was available for solar thermal - only when it was not used for heating swimming pools. Heating water for showers, dishes, radiant heating system in buildings with solar thermal was eligible, but swimming pools were excluded.Yet I found that heating the swimming pool was the greatest need that the apartment owners I was contacting had, and it was such a staggering source of greenhouse gas emissions, that I wrote up my suggestion that “like heating apartment pools” should be instated as the measure we use when we say doing something is like taking some number of “cars-off-the-road” to “measure” carbon reduction.
For example, the Maintenance Supervisor at The Bay Street Apartments in the East Bay told me that every month, $6,000 of his $11,000 a month gas bill went just to keeping this relatively tiny swimming pool at the sort of modest temperature that apartment pools are kept at. Hot water for all the apartments in the complex took less gas than this tiny swimming pool.
My estimate for an Apricus system for Santana Row came in at $227,790, and $1, 256,373 money saved over 25 years (not spent on gas, which if its average annual cost rise -of 9% a year till this year- were to continue over the next 25 years would have been an estimated $2,473,605.)
The greenhouse gases saved over the twenty five years came to 90,000 tons of carbon.
Although the apartment complex was eligible for a utility rebate in my utility district (PG&E) based on the (in this case) 13,045 therms saved in the first year, they were not eligible for any other incentives, (although Southern California was looking into expanding solar thermal incentives at that time).
This is the kind of money and greenhouse gas emissions that apartment complexes are literally pouring into pools, for heating that evaporates into the cool night air every night. It is probably one of the biggest energy waster we have. I am sure that it is costing community swimming pools a similar amount.
Commercial pools at hotels and motels, health clubs, municipal pools and school pools would all be covered. Approximately 189,000 commercial pools nationwide use fossil fuel or electricity to heat an estimated 27.25 billion gallons of water nationwide. If the heating systems were replaced with solar water heating systems, 1.23 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided annually.
Senator Feinstein’s measure [with Sen. Merkley D-Ore.] would extend the 30% solar tax credit which is set to expire in 2010, and expand it to include solar thermal for commercial and community swimming pools, and also would expand it to include manufacturing equipment needed to manufacture solar water heating systems.