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 Post subject: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 2:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 87
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
I thought this was interesting. Adding "green" creed to an already "green" mode of transportation.... Nice that they were able to get a grant for the system, plus the fact that it will save money each year on operating costs, especially as electrical power prices are expected to rise significantly after 2010 due to the expiration of rate caps in PA.

I don't see it being a feasible option for PAT, due to the limited sun in Western PA, but who knows since I'm a fossil fuel / nuclear power fan myself....

http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Sto ... ar-trolley

Quote:
ARDEN - Bill Fronczek was in a reflective mood Saturday outside the new electrical substation at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, recalling a time when trolley cars had to be moved by hand.

As a teen, Fronczek volunteered at the museum. It wasn't until the 1960s that there was electrical service at the museum.

"We've come a long way since then," said Fronczek - now president of the organization - as solar-powered streetcar and electrical trolley substation projects were dedicated in front of several elected officials and corporate sponsors.

Not only does this mark the first time in the United States that electric transit vehicles are partially powered by the sun, but Ed Johnson of Penn State Cooperative Extension also said the number of solar panels appears to make it one of the largest solar energy projects in the state.

Today, the museum has enough power to operate five trolleys at a time as opposed to a few years ago when running just one car could trip a breaker, Fronczek explained.

The dedication was held at the trolley display building, where many of the museum's 52 trolley cars are restored. Even the microphone and speaker system were powered by solar panels for the brief ceremony.

The solar project was about five years in the making, explained Scott Davis, a PTM volunteer. The museum was awarded a $271,391 Energy Harvest grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection. More than $34,850 in-kind donations also were received from about 60 corporations and businesses. An electrical substation received more than $200,000 in funding from several foundations.

The project involved installation of 198 solar panels on the south-facing metal roof of the display building. The panels were built by Solar Power Industries in Belle Vernon, prompting museum executive director Scott Becker to note, "This is a homegrown product we are using today."

He added that solar power production will be another educational tool for the many schoolchildren who visit museum.

The museum expects to save more than $5,300 in electricity costs the first year.


And:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 76611.html

Quote:
Here comes the sun

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum has unveiled a solar-powered trolley system, the first electric transit line in the country powered by the sun.

"It's an exciting project," museum Executive Director Scott Becker said. "We're celebrating the completion of the Solar-Powered Streetcar and Trolley Substation project."

The museum's new 36-kilowatt photovoltaic solar energy system will help operate the two-mile railway track that takes visitors on daily trolley tours, as well as display its collection of 52 vintage electric railway vehicles.

"We've gotten a grant for installing solar panels to produce some of our own electricity," Visitors Services Coordinator Lisa Stout-Bashioum said. "We're really proud of that."

The grant from the state Department of Energy is part of the Energy Harvest program, which gave out $7.2 million in 2009 to fund projects across the state.

The museum received $271,391 to install the system, with additional donations of $28,000 from members of the trolley museum and Solar Power Industries of Belle Vernon completing funding for the project.

According to the state, the new energy system is expected to produce 44,150 kilowatt hours of electricity annually and conserve approximately 214,200 gallons of water. Becker projects that the solar panels will save $5,300 in power costs in 2010. T

The system, which consists of 198 photovoltaic panels, was built locally at Solar Power Industries Belle Vernon facility and installed with the assistance of museum volunteers by S.E. Schultz Electric of Washington on the south-facing roof of the museum.

"We get support from a wide spectrum of the community," Becker said. "We're a community project with a capital 'C.'"

According to Becker, the museum expects to "capture the public's imagination" by using modern solar photovoltaic technology to power early 20th century streetcars. It will allow the museum to transfer its energy savings into more educational events and programming for the community.

"When the museum started (in 1953), it didn't have two nickels to rub together," Becker said. "We try to stretch the dollars out. We're rolling up our sleeves and putting a lot of sweat equity into them."

"It's just amazing," museum President Bill Fronzcek said. He sees the use of solar power as a natural extension of the history of the electrical streetcar system and electricity itself. "West Penn Power Company started out with streetcars. It's the history of electricity."

The solar energy system has its own exhibit describing how it works. In addition, an ongoing program called Green Initiative calculates the museum's daily solar energy usage.

A real-time output report that measures the energy being used on an hourly basis can be found on the museum's website.

In conjunction with the new solar panels, a more energy-efficient trolley substation was constructed to provide 600 volts of direct current to power the vintage streetcars.

This AC/DC convertor project received funding from The Renner Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, Fairbanks-Horix Foundation and the Allegheny Foundation. Individual donations of materials, time and support from suppliers in the electric industry helped complete installation of the new substation.


and from 2009 regarding the project:

http://alternate-power.org/pittsburgh-a ... d-trolley/

Quote:
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s Scott Becker recently announced an innovation in energy sources, mixing very old and very new. The museum is going all solar, making their working exhibit the first solar-powered trolley line in the world. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Energy Harvest Program funded just over a quarter of a million dollars, which will pay for an installed 36 KW photovoltaic (solar panel) system. The system will generate the electricity by which they run their vintage streetcar vehicles.

Guests learn by experience, enjoying a four-mile long ride on these perfectly restored streetcars. The scenery along the way is pleasant. With the new power source, the exhibit will be both a step back and forward in time. This exhibit proves that we can provide transportation without pollution.

Becker says he’s conveyed the concept to the Pittsburgh Port Authority, who will now consider using this as an example. Hopefully they’ll be designing their own solar system to power the city’s light rail system soon.

Solar Power Industries of Belle Vernon, a local company, is doing the system design and installation. The project will give the museum its own substation. It’s may not seem like all that much of an immediate savings, only $5000 a year. But when the museum reopens for the season on April 3rd, 2009, it will be running entirely on its own power, generated entirely by solar panels. This makes the trolley autonomous and entirely Green, and that’s worth a fortune!

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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 12:55 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:04 am
Posts: 665
Location: Northeast Ohio
Quarter million dollars (much of it forcibly taken from you and me) spent on this and only saves $5,300 in electric costs per year?

How much more money will be taken from us to replace those panels when they are no longer as productive, since solar panels do have a finite life expectancy?

I would love to come to the PTM and voluntarily pay my admission fee, but am dead set against throwing our nation even deeper into debt to fund these unnecessary projects, and artificially propping up the price of solar panels through the existence of government financing.

Should the government subsidies of solar dry up, the price of solar panels would plummet, as they would then have to sell them at a price that the public would willingly purchase them for. But by subsidizing them nobody really cares what they cost, as its other people's money buying them.

I'm thinking a bit philosophically here, but do any of you recognize that the long term future of our museums, artifacts and history for that matter hinge upon the existence of a stable civilization? Do any of you truly think that the runaway debt of the United States will end in anything short of a complete economic collapse? What will happen to the luxuries of historic preservation and museums when people are rioting on the streets because their entitlements have been cut off, and people cannot feed themselves? Its happening in Greece right now, but they are lucky in that the EU will bail them out. When we reach that point, nobody is going to bail us out.

Yes I know its hard to say no to the "free" government money, but in the long term, it may be more responsible to not contribute to the impending US collapse.


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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 2:30 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
What is the lifespan? At the quoted figures, the payoff period is 50 years at 0% interest. Of course, electric supply will become more expensive, inflate, in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 8:56 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:39 am
Posts: 54
Location: California desert
I'm told that the typical life span for solar panels is 20-25 years. Some solar systems will break even with subsidized power rates. Off-grid applications still have the high cost of energy storage to solve. There have been several presentations given by the local power utilities and it seems to me that Solar Power isn't quite ready as a viable alternative power source.

Max Cox


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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 3:33 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
The "Class I" railroads and probably some shortlines have been using photovoltaic panels to power remote signal and telecom apparatus in places where running commercial power is not feasible and old pole lines are major maintenance headaches. Even electric utilities, which generate electricity by the gigawatt, find it makes good economic sense to run mountain-top comm sites and other remote locations with solar power. In San Marino (CA), the Henry E. Huntington estate, which incorporates the Library, the Art Gallery, the Research Center and numerous garden related exhibits, installed solar panels because the local underground electric cables were being stressed by the increasing load of modern building systems, and it was more practical to add "on site" energy than to rebuild the old underground system. I can also add that my wife and I have a motor-home with four solar panels installed by the previous owner. We have camped for a number of days without a "shore power" connection or running the generator. (railroad relevance--it's visited several railway museums and light rail stations in its adventures. Also, since it's a "sleeping car", like the old Pullmans, it wasn't complete without a name: It's Portsmouth & Pasadena Scenic Lines RV 201 "Piscataqua River").

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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 7:14 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 87
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
Bob Davis wrote:
I can also add that my wife and I have a motor-home with four solar panels installed by the previous owner. We have camped for a number of days without a "shore power" connection or running the generator.


OFF-TOPIC (but cool): Speaking of solar powered motorhomes, you guys would appreciate this awesome motorhome in Australia. It's handmade on an old 6x6 military vehicle and also has solar power (not for motive power) as well as water recycling. Quite the machine and quite the reading on the website....

http://www.robgray.com/graynomad/wothah ... /index.php

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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 7:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5249
Location: southeastern USA
There has been recent development of efficient solar cells made of common earth elements, so we probably will see the cost of the photovoltaic elements fall within the next couple years assuming energy from fossil fuels isn't artificially subsidized to a greater extent. With evolution of LEDs and other products that do more useful work with less energy consumption, and rapid gains evolving in battery technology, it would be useful to make friends with the technology soon. Check out the Cyclone Engine for a practical way to put that waste heat that goes out the stack to some good use.......

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 11:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:58 am
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Location: Reston, VA
The cost of the solar cells has already fallen considerably from the time that PTM placed its order to now. Also, much of the cost of the project is in the other elements of the installation, such as wire and conduit, that should be good for a next generation of solar cells.


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 Post subject: Re: Solar Power at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 4:10 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:24 am
Posts: 23
A PV solar project should also generate Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) under the state of Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolios Standard (AEPS). SRECs represent 1 MWh of solar electricity. Electric utilities purchase SRECs to comply with the AEPS without constructing solar electric systems.

Last year's pricing for SRECs can be found here.
http://www.puc.state.pa.us/electric/ele ... nergy.aspx

SRECs subsidize solar projects without drawing on tax dollars, but instead have an impact on rate payers. I do not have an estimate of AEPS's impact on PA retail electricity prices readily available.

I've estimated a simple payback period of 14 years. See file.


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RYPN solar estimate.xlsx [9.54 KiB]
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