Why your manufactured home community must prioritize renewable energy

Article By:

Intern | Environmental Designer

Manufactured home communities have had to face many concerns over the years. Chief among them has always been the sustainable use of energy.

With increasing fossil fuel pollution rapidly deteriorating the environment, it’s imperative that MH communities try to incorporate cleaner energy. There are several options available in this regard; however, solar energy has emerged as the most viable option.

Granted, there are many hurdles in the path to using solar energy for manufactured home communities. But these can be overcome through thoughtful planning and preparation. That’s why today, I’m going to elucidate why your MH community needs to prioritize renewable energies such as solar power and what benefits it can gain from doing so.

Let’s begin.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR MH COMMUNITIES

Why is it essential?

It’s no secret that as of today, we’ve released almost 375 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the environment. And each year, we keep on adding to that figure. In such a scenario, the need for renewable energy for any residential community is evident.

Manufactured homes need to focus on this aspect with greater acuity, as these communities operate within multiple constraints. And as I’ve already mentioned above, solar energy is the option that’s becoming more and more attractive and attainable for these communities.

The reason for this is manifold: not only is solar energy ecologically viable, but it’s also economically sustainable. And even though several hurdles do exist in the way of successfully implementing solar energy, they can be overcome to provide greater value and affordability to MH community owners.  

In fact, several communities have already used solar energy to significant effect. In the following section, we’re going to look at one such community and how it used solar energy to save the hard-earned money of its residents.

Mascoma Meadows: A study in solar

When talking about the use of renewable energy in residential communities, the example of Mascoma Meadows comes to my mind. It’s a resident-owned community in Lebanon, New Hampshire, that uses solar panels to supply energy to its homes.

There are a total of 50 homes in the community, and the use of solar energy has resulted in an annual savings of $270 for each family. The community uses an array of 384 solar panels to generate clean energy that powers their homes.

Despite being a very small community, Mascoma Meadows has succeeded in setting up its solar energy array due to a $168,000 grant from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. It also received a donation of half an acre of land by a neighboring church, on which the solar array is set up.

As a result of their solar setup, this MH community has taken the proper steps towards clean, self-sufficient energy. It has also succeeded in making the homes much more affordable and at the same time increasing their value.

Perceived stigmas and struggles

It’s essential to note that even though the move towards renewable energy such as solar is the need of the hour, there are several hurdles on the road as well. For one, the initial cost of setting up a solar farm such as the one deployed by Mascoma Meadows is relatively high. This often acts as a barrier to implement renewable energy projects effectively.

Another significant roadblock in migrating to solar energy is that these projects require a large land area for setting up the solar array. While putting up solar panels on the rooftops of houses is a probable solution in theory, the results are quite different in practice.

The amount of power generated by solar arrays depends on the amount of sunlight being captured by them. Sadly, not every home can be ideally positioned to collect the sun’s rays at an appropriate angle to generate power. This means MH communities need to obtain land where the arrays can be set up.

Finally, maintenance of a solar array is essential to ensure its continued operation. Without consistent upkeep, the arrays can develop problems such as micro-cracks and hotspots. Also, animals and birds can, and do, often damage the panels.

Reasons to overcome the hurdles

The above problems notwithstanding, there are a number of reasons why your MH community needs to overcome them and adopt clean, renewable energies such as solar power. And it goes without saying that the number one reason is the environmental dividends it provides.

Sustainable energy such as solar power is entirely green and infinitely renewable. Despite the initial cost, it pays back several times in terms of property value. Also, it’s attractive as it brings the advantage of a cheaper cost of living.

Even the initial costs for setting up a solar array can be covered by donations or grants from governments or local utility bodies (such as in the case of Mascoma Meadows). Once that is covered, upkeep and maintenance costs for a solar power generation array are relatively inexpensive. This helps to pass on the savings to the MH owners.

Further, land used for solar arrays does not need to be exclusively dedicated to that purpose. Communities can program the underside of panels for productive purposes. There are many solar farms across North America where the land underneath the panels doubles as parking lots, farming land, and even as alternative living space.

CONCLUSION    

Fossil fuels are finite, but the human demand for energy is not. In such a situation, the only recourse for MH communities is to move towards renewable energy sources. Opting for options such as solar energy can not only reduce power costs but also bring other benefits, as explained above.

In all cases, installing solar panels for renewable energy has been profitable for the MH community involved. All it takes is a bit of resourcefulness and enthusiasm to get the initial setup done. After that, the returns keep on coming, entirely inexhaustibly.

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