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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Earth Friendly Energy at Montgomery County Public Libraries

Solar panels at Gaithersburg Library
Solar panels on the Rockville Memorial branch roof.
Montgomery County is becoming more environmentally friendly.  The Rockville Memorial and Gaithersburg branches of MCPL are helping lead the way. The two libraries recently installed solar energy panels to reduce their dependence on electricity produced by fossil fuels.  With sufficient sunlight, the equipment allows these libraries to function entirely on solar energy.

Photovoltaic cells make up the solar panels, which absorb sunlight to be converted to electricity.  The Rockville system features 288 panels, while the Gaithersburg system has 720.  Solar panels have become increasingly efficient in recent years and are more powerful than ever.  In fact, these panels are capable of producing a surplus of energy, sometimes twice the energy necessary for the building.  When this happens, the unused energy is recycled into the utility grid.


Solar panels on the Rockville Memorial branch roof.
The environmental benefits of the systems are profound.  By using solar energy to supplement the energy received from the grid, the two libraries will greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  The Rockville and Gaithersburg libraries together are expected over 20 years to avoid producing more than 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide.  That’s the equivalent of planting over 100,000 trees!

The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that “CO2 remains in the atmosphere longer than the other major heat-trapping gases.”  The US Energy Information Administration has found that in 2015, carbon dioxide emissions “by the U.S. electric power sector were 1,925 million metric tons, or about 37% of the total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.”  Buildings using solar power can help to reduce a significant part of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. MCPL is proud to be part of the solution.

Solar energy is another great step toward for MCPL.  If you would like to learn more about solar energy, check out these books on solar power and our science databases.

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