Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Case For Solar Power in Downtown Lexington

I read several days ago about San Francisco's first solar bus shelter. It seems to me that a city as advanced as San Francisco would have done this already. I have seen reports from other cities and their efforts to add signage and notice boards announcing the next bus using some radio and tracking system. These things take power and solar just seems like the thing to supply it.

Lexington's new parking meter system uses solar collectors to power the units, but I suppose that they are running on very low voltage, yet they operate year round.

The one real nice thing that I liked about the San Francisco shelter was the ability to feed into the regular power grid. Just think of the usage of the technology on an "art style" bus stop in Lexington. Oh wait, they did include a solar panel for the Bottle Stop location so as to make it a really green project. The Newtown Pike shelter is also to be solar powered.

When these individual projects are designed as stand alone shelters and off the grid, then the solar panels are scaled to the needs of the stop itself. Now if these are to be a series of stops as needed for say the downtown circulator or some themed area such as Hamburg, as I have posted of before, then the solar collectors could be incorporated into more of the shelter's surface (a la San Francisco's).

By incorporating these series of shelters into the electrical grid the city could help these stops pay for themselves. I understand that in doing so there would have to be a meter through which to connect and for which there is a minimum monthly charge, but that could be offset by what the solar panel feeds back into the grid. This is one more way that the City could show encouragement for a green initiative.

But wait a minute, just what are those green initiatives that the City is working on? A check of the LFUCG website shows that they want to take their buildings green, although they have left out adding solar panels or wind generators for the building roofs.

A new stadium in Taiwan is being built that will supply 100% of its needed power from solar with enough left over to add to the grid to take care of 80% of the neighboring area's needs. The roof of Rupp Arena at Lexington Center is easily the largest area of rooftop in the downtown district and could easily accomodate an array of solar panels to offset the power needs of the arena. And if another arena is built, then there is another roof space.

Each and every tall building in the urban area has updrafts and wind currents that could be used as a source of wind power and while they may not meet all the power requirements of the individual building they could put a dent in the utility bill, if not the carbon footprint.

There is so much else that can be done, so why don't you tell me some of your ideas?


topazsfp said...

I've also read about rooftop gardens or living walls - they help cut down heating and cooling bills considerably (as long as your structure is strong enough to support the weight!) - and it makes for more beautiful buildings and more green downtown.

Janice Childers said...

Following up on topazsfp's comments, Toronto has been a major player in the green rooftop movement. See for examples. Lexington may not have a huge skyline, but I'm betting there are plenty of downtown buildings which could support green roofs.