This untapped resource is helping strapped transit agencies save money

04 the clever way strapped transit agencies

Lot 9 at New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport is an ocean of asphalt, sometimes occupied by hundreds of parked automobiles. Quickly it is going to be lined with 16 acres price of photo voltaic panels, producing sufficient electrical energy to energy the AirTrain that hyperlinks the close by subway station to the airport’s terminals, whereas additionally assembly the electrical energy wants of tons of of houses within the surrounding neighborhood.

Like a extra central model of the huge photo voltaic arrays that get constructed on empty fields within the hinterlands, it’s a comparatively new type of solar energy mission that brings the era and storage of photo voltaic power proper the place it’s wanted most.

[Image: SunPower]

The mission is a collaboration between the New York Energy Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Goldman Sachs, and SunPower, a photo voltaic power firm. It’s one among a number of initiatives SunPower is constructing on websites owned by transportation agencies across the nation, together with the Washington Metropolitan Space Transit Authority and the Delaware River Port Authority. The initiatives make the most of the huge open parking tons at practice stations and transportation agency-owned land to create a lot wanted electrical energy.

[Image: SunPower]

“Public agencies are sometimes on the bleeding fringe of a variety of this innovation that’s taking place round photo voltaic and storage,” says Eric Potts, senior vp at SunPower. He says college districts in California have been main the way in which in including photo voltaic panel-covered canopies over parking tons to offset power necessities and save money. “They’re buying and selling off working bills to pay power payments, with power financial savings from photo voltaic to place extra money into books or training or lecturers or services. So it’s very a lot an financial resolution in addition to a inexperienced resolution.”


For transit agencies, the financial aspect is particularly vital because the pandemic has led to vital cuts in ridership, passengers, and income at transit agencies and airports. “What we’re capable of give these transportation entities is one other income or a supply of power financial savings,” says Potts.

The mission at JFK airport will offset the services power necessities and scale back the quantity of typical energy it buys from the grid. Operational by early 2022, the mission will place photo voltaic canopies over parking areas in Lot 9 that will probably be able to producing 13 megawatts of solar energy, about half of which is able to go to powering the AirTrain. “That’s a 7 megawatt baseload, and it’s an amazing power draw on the airport,” says SunPower senior account govt Alex Sarly. “So how will you make a cloth affect on the carbon consumption of the airport? Hit the AirTrain. It’s proper there.”

[Image: SunPower]

The remainder of the ability generated there will probably be distributed to the neighborhoods close to the airport at decreased charges. It’s a part of an effort to offset the airport’s vital environmental impacts on the folks dwelling close by. “They’ve a particular duty when it comes to how a lot carbon they produce on property,” Sarly says.

Producing electrical energy will convey down the airport’s power prices, but it surely’s additionally a matter of practicality. As transit agencies and public entities convert their autos and fleets to working on electrical energy, just like the JFK AirTrain, it is smart to have a supply of electrical power collected and saved on-site for these autos to make use of. “There’s a very huge push proper now and expectation that a variety of these transportation hubs are going to want much more electrical energy to satisfy that demand,” says Potts. “Constructing an influence plant on website the place the ability’s going to be consumed is setting us up for better power independence.”

However Potts says there are nonetheless some infrastructural hurdles to cope with earlier than arrays of photo voltaic panels over parking tons and huge storage batteries can utterly meet the wants of transit agencies. “The grid’s not fairly there but, the know-how and the power to retailer is not fairly there but both,” he says.

“I believe we’ll begin to see this increase throughout practice stations, airports, bus depots,” Potts says. “You may think about a variety of completely different parking tons or areas the place there’s open house for them to construct.”