Peel-and-stick Solar Panels for Phoenix Convention Center

Michael Giberson

This could be one of the gee-whiz, how-cool-is-that posts about advancing technologies that we do here from time to time. The Arizona Republic has a story about how the new Phoenix Convention Center, which was finished in 2006, will begin to generate some of its own power courtesy of some gee-whiz technologies: peel-and-stick solar panels. The city is going to put up about 2/3rds of an acre’s worth of the photovoltaic devices on the roof of one of the buildings.

So this could have been one of those gee-whiz, how-cool-is-that-posts, except that Scott Gustafson ran the numbers and posted the results on his Arizona Economics blog. Talk about raining on the city’s solar power parade.

The short version: Capital cost – $850,000; estimated power production, 150,000 kwh annually; current retail power costs avoided, 10 cents per kwh.

So, Gustafson concludes, that’s a 1.7% return on an $850,000 investment, ignoring maintenance costs and anything else.

The important thing, says Councilman Greg Stanton, is that the panels are a groundbreaking effort for Phoenix.

Well, city taxpayers may have other ideas about what “the important thing” is, but at least the city intends to carefully track exactly how much power the tiles actually generate. Maybe the Arizona Republic will follow up in a year or so, to see how the solar panels are paying off.