Solar, EV charging, efficiency come together

rivercentre-solar-st-paulSaint Paul, Minn. recently saw a unique combination of solar PV, electric car charging, energy efficient lighting, and solar thermal projects completed at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

Funded by Federal Stimulus dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the RiverCentre’s renewable energy and sustainability centerpiece is an 82 kW solar array that will produce the annual electricity equivalent of the average yearly use of nine homes.

Some of the electricity produced by the solar array may flow into the batteries of EVs, which will be able to charge at the RiverCentre’s two recently installed EV charging stations.

“Integrating these cutting edge technologies demonstrates that clean energy is a way of life in Saint Paul,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at a recent event marking the unveiling of the project.

100,000 kWh annually
The solar array consists of 348 American-made solar photovoltaic panels expected to generate 100,000 kWh of energy annually. The solar project is one of seven in Saint Paul using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant dollars.
The RiverCentre also boasts what it says is the Midwest’s largest solar thermal installation.

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In addition, the RiverCentre has converted 1,087 high pressure sodium lights in its parking ramp to new energy-efficient fluorescent lamps – a move expected to result in an annual savings of $50,000. That project was funded with Federal Stimulus money and an Xcel Energy rebate.
The RiverCentre’s long-term goal is to reduce the carbon footprint at Saint Paul RiverCentre, the accompanying Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium and Xcel Energy Center by 80 percent and make the facilities 20 percent more efficient than average within three years time. The timeline for reaching this goal is 2012.
Saint Paul RiverCentre is located in the Energy Innovation Corridor, which is an area along a planned Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line, and is a showcase of energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation and smart technology in Minnesota.

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