Solar power: Using renewable energy to save the planet, one panel at a time

When engineer Remco DeJong and his wife bought their North Avondale home 12 years ago, they were quick to wonder how they could keep costs low with a larger, older house. “I am a believer in the science of global warming,” says DeJong, “So I thought, well, what can I do?” Remco has planted bamboo and kept his honeysuckle bountiful, but he was still concerned with the energy cost and usage he was acquiring. His solution? Solar power.

DeJong decided he was going to use the renewable energy available to him from the sun and turn it into electricity. First, however, he needed a solid plan of action. After the trial of grant writing, approvals, and choosing where he was going to build, he got to work. Down came his original garage and up went a two-car structure that he designed to hold 36 solar panels (and charge both he and his brother's Teslas).

“This was what I felt I could do and I loved the challenge of installing it myself,” he says.

Challenge is the operative word he would use if someone wanted to do this for themselves. Remco made it known that it was not easy and the reason he was able to keep overall costs low was because he was able to build and install everything himself. He was earnest in his explanation that it can be an expensive endeavor and currently the net meter barely makes it worth it.

“Basically,” he says, “I’m bringing in energy I am able to sell back to the power support grid, but I am really only selling it back to the grid at the same amount I am paying to use energy from the grid. I break just about even.”

However, as much as it is about saving money, DeJong expressed how important it is to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. He is glad he did it (even if he does wish he would’ve built the pitch of the roof a bit higher) But, it is “just a start” he says. “Now, I just need to find the next step.”

Read more articles by Amy Briana Counts.

Amy Briana Counts is an aspiring young writer in Cincinnati. When she's not writing you can find her climbing rocks, traveling out west, and being "mom" to her cats, Fred and George.