New Hampshire School Signs World’s First Solar Hot Air Power Purchase Agreement
Solyndra and other troubled, taxpayer-funded solar electric companies might have momentarily derailed the green movement’s progress this year, but a solar hot air collector will be working wonders at Sanborn Regional High School.
Installed this month and funded by the world’s first power purchase agreement (PPA) for ultra-efficient solar hot air, Sanborn’s fuel-oil heating bills will be cut by at least by $17,000 annually with no capital investment by the school district.
A 10-year contract, which is incentivized with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding, provides the Sanborn Regional School District with 1,400mmBTU’s of thermal energy–the equivalent to paying $2.50 per gallon of fuel oil. The five-year-old, Kingston, N.H. high school site’s energy savings will fluctuate parallel to fuel oil market prices, which have averaged between $3 and $4 per gallon within the last 10 years. The environment also benefits from a displacement of 13,500 gallons of fuel oil and a reduction of 48 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
The project features four separate Lubi(TM) wall-mounted solar hot air collectors by Enerconcept Technologies, Magog, Quebec. The collectors, which aesthetically appear as walls of windows, will cover 8,000-square feet of the school’s southern walls and use a black metal absorber. The collectors will provide a majority of the school’s heated make-up air requirements and partially space heat the 12,000-square-foot gym. Like all public buildings, Sanborn is required by building codes to incorporate indoor air changes with a percentage of outside air, which must be heated in wintertime operation. The Lubi uses 1 x 3-foot translucent glazing panels with a patented perforation design resulting in the world’s most efficient solar device, according to Canadian Standards Association (CSA-International) certification tests. “We’re excited about this project because it won’t detract from our school’s appearance, offers a long-term alternative energy savings strategy and helps stabilize the tremendous costs of heating a 220,000-square-foot facility,” said Carol Coppola, the district’s business administrator.
Facilitating the project is a limited joint-partnership between Enerconcept, the PPA’s provider and financier, Revolution Energy, Dover, N.H., and Shift Energy, a Biddeford, Maine-based manufacturer’s representative that managed the wall-mounted solar collectors’ installation and connection to the school’s HVAC system. The partnership’s solar air heating PPA strategy is now attracting other school administrators across the northern U.S. looking for energy-saving alternatives without a capital investment, according to Clay Mitchell, principal, Revolution Energy.
Enerconcept provides the equipment and engineering design, and Shift Energy manages the installation. Revolution Energy arranges the conventional bank loan, owns the equipment, and receives a 30-percent tax grant and a first-year 100-percent equipment depreciation from the ARRA, which is passed onto a project’s private financing institution. Revolution Energy is also responsible for equipment maintenance over the 10-year contract, however the Lubi requires no maintenance.
When the 10-year contract expires, the school has an option to purchase the system at a fair market value well below the new system’s cost. Fuel oil prices are expected to climb in the future, so throughout the 30-year lifecycle of the solar collector, the school district could conceivably save more than $1.5 million in energy expenditures, displace 400,000-gallons of fuel oil and eliminate 1,440-tons of CO2 emissions from the environment, according to Mitchell.
“Using stimulus money to partially fund a solar concept (solar hot air) that’s significantly more efficient than solar electric, and combining it with the accountability of private financing is a better return on investment for the taxpayer,” said Christian Vachon, P.Eng., president, Enerconcept Technologies.air changes, air collectors, co2 emissions, energy savings, heating bills, magog quebec, oil heating, old kingston, regional high school, regional school district, reinvestment act, southern walls, square foot gym, thermal energy, wintertime
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