By RICK NEBEL
Tibbar Plasma Technologies, Inc.
274 DP Road, Los Alamos
In January 2020, Tibbar Plasma Technologies went emissions free. We now have a year and a half of data, and I thought that some of the readers of the Post might be interested to know how this has worked out.
Our primary motivation for doing this was to eliminate our utility bills and thus lower our overhead costs. This is particularly important for us because we do high risk/high payoff research and we do have times when we don’t have contract money coming in.
We converted our heating and cooling to electric (installed a heat pump/air conditioner) and installed 20 kW of solar PV on the roof. This has worked out well. We have eliminated our usage of natural gas and we now produce more electricity than we use. Recently, we added a level 2 EV charger so our employees can drive their EVs for free. We have the capability to add two more of these chargers if the demand develops.
We did have a couple of surprises. I had thought that the heat pump would use about as much energy to heat the building in the winter as the air conditioner used to cool it in the summer. The air conditioning load turned out to be larger than the heating load. However, the solar PV production also peaks in the summer so the month-to-month load following worked out pretty well. The bottom line is that the PV/ heat pump combination worked as we hoped it would.
So how does all of this work out financially, particularly for a house? For a 10 kW PV unit (probably enough to go emissions free for a typical home) you are likely looking at an installed cost of about $38,000 before the federal and state rebates. Assuming a 20-year lifetime for the unit and adding in a 24% federal rebate and possibly a 10% state rebate, this comes out to a cost ~ $1,300/year. So, if you add up all of your present yearly expenses for electricity, natural gas and gasoline (not including out-of-state travel) and if the total is over $1,300, you would probably save money by going emissions free.