Going Green: Reservoir produces power
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Here’s what Syracuse’s Westcott Reservoir used to look like.
Here’s what it looks like now and one of the 375-foot diameter storage tanks is playing host to a 50-kilowatt solar panel system.
Project Engineer with CH2M HILL Zack Knight said, “It will supply enough power for approximately all of the demands of the site, generating around $20,000 to $25,000 of power-based revenue a year. That revenue will offset the cost of power demands at the site.”
More and more municipalities are using water storage tank roofs for solar arrays.
The solar systems have direct access to the sunlight on a high large roof and in this instance there’s no obstruction of any kind and as you can see there’s quite a large surface to work with.
The Westcott Reservoir has another unique advantage: it’s downhill from the water source. Skaneateles Lake is about 18 miles away and the water flows by gravity through the system into the city so they’ve installed a hydro turbine.
Matthew Marko, Vice-President of CH2M HILL said, “The turbine operates the opposite of a pump. We’re all familiar with how a pump operates which is to put electrical energy into a motor to drive water through an impeller up a hill. In this case we have gravity working to our advantage so we take that water from Skaneateles Lake at a higher elevation, run it down the hill into the turbine which in turn produces power through the generator and back into the system so it’s really no more sophisticated than a pump in reverse.”
The hydro turbine generates about 30 kilowatts of electrical power and together with the solar panels, produces $40,000 to $50,000 a year in revenue. They’ll pay for themselves in about 15 years.
This turbine system will last quite awhile. The vault itself will last a hundred years. The equipment within it, if maintained, will last at least 30 years and, if maintained a few new parts are added, as many as 50 years.