Coney Island unveiled a new solar thermal system Thursday, according to a press release by the N.Y. Power Authority. The system was installed at the New York City Transit Complex, where many of the city’s subway cars are maintained and repaired. It will heat water used for washing trains during scheduled maintenance and for domestic-use needs by staff.
The system uses water, rather than a an anti-freeze liquid like glycol, as the heat-transfer medium. The alternative water medium avoids any potential environmental impacts, and the system is vacuum-insulated to achieve high-thermal performance during the cold weather without freezing. This is the first system of its kind to be installed in the U.S.
The solar water heating equipment replaces an electric hot water tank for meeting the Maintenance Facility’s hot water needs, with NYPA also installing an instantaneous steam-powered hot water heater as a backup. The reduced demand for electricity from the enhancements will result in annual savings of $94,000 and avoided emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary greenhouse gas, by 86 tons a year.
In addition, newly installed lighting equipment at some New York City Transit facilities will provide more efficient and longer-lasting illumination. Together these projects will save commuters and taxpayers $170,000 annually in energy costs and avoid over 3,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided a $150,000 grant to offset a portion of the $550,000 cost of the new hot water system.
The newly installed lighting equipment, valued at nearly $585,000, was undertaken at the Maintenance Barn and the transit complex’s Storage Building and Pneumatics Shop, which supplies air brake units for the subway cars. The new lighting includes high-output fluorescent fixtures—T5 lamps—that are more efficient, last longer and provide better illumination than the light sources they replaced.
The lighting upgrade, which includes occupancy sensors, will provide annual savings of $76,000 and cut CO2 emissions by more than 480 tons.
The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the city’s trains, plans to derive 7 percent of its energy use from renewable resources by 2015.