While the name Ronald McDonald will forever be associated with the fast-food chain’s mascot, Ronald McDonald House, a charity that provides housing for families whose children are in hospitals at 298 locations in 30 countries, continues to do good and in rather impressive, unexpected ways; consider, for example, the solar electric system installed at the Ronald McDonald House in Reno, Nevada.
The solar panel system allows for Ronald McDonald House to redirect its financial expenditures considerably. Rather than spend its money on electricity, it can now spend more on its surrounding community and on families. The solar power system produces 52,692 kilowatt hours of energy per year; this is energy production equivalent to 101,610 pounds of carbon dioxide being released, which itself is equivalent to 112,596 miles driven in a car with fairly standard fuel economy. In short, the savings are substantial.
Advanced Green Builders, also based out of Reno, created the solar panel layout and installed the panels. The installation consists of 144 Suntech STP210 photovoltaic modules. The panels have a peak output of 210 watts each and are made out of polycrystalline and tempered glass, offering a high conversion rate and a design intended to make the most out of even low-light situations, making the panels potentially suitable for areas that receive small quantities of sunlight in the autumn and winter months. Each panel is rated to perform for 25 years and consists of a single crystal made from polycrystalline silicon substrate, helping to ensure its long life and improve its conversion rate over other solar panels.
Solar Universe, a solar energy installer group based out of Reno, helped to provide Ronald McDonald House with the panels and the services necessary in order to make them provide power. This helps the Ronald McDonald House organization spend its money instead on programs such as mobile outreach healthcare for children and renewable scholarships, which it offers 50 of, valued at $1000 each, to high school seniors. The organization is entirely donation-funded and thus requires support from its community in order to achieve its goals, and getting largely off of the power grid is certainly one way to help make this happen.
Similar systems were installed earlier this year at Ronald McDonald Houses in California, and the costs of installation weren’t cheap. Solar panels for the House in San Diego would have, according to its administrators, cost $500,00 after rebates, making such installations prohibitive for a non-profit.