The largest collection of solar air heated buildings in the world can now be found at the military base of Fort Drum, in upstate New York. 50 SolarWall systems (totaling over 110,000 ft2) have been installed on 27 military buildings and will collectively generate over 4MW of peak thermal energy.
The project is extremely significant in terms of the sheer magnitude of energy and CO2 savings, and shows the tremendous potential for solar thermal when it is deployed on a large scale.
By using the free energy of the sun - instead of burning fossil fuels for heating purposes - the base will displace over 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide each and every year at one of the coldest locations in the United States. The base is also projected to realize fuel savings of 44 billion BTU/h (46,000 GJ) per year.
The SolarWall air heating system heats the ventilation air that is required in commercial and industrial buildings using a patented transpired solar collector developed by Conserval Engineering. Ventilation heating is typically one of the largest single energy requirements for these types of buildings, which is why solar air heating can generate such significant overall energy savings.
One of the SolarWall systems
(4,100 ft2) on Building 91 is
currently being monitored by
NREL (National Renewable Energy
Laboratory). The preliminary
results from one month of
monitoring were calculated as
• Building 91 @ $0.90 /therm,
• Boiler efficiency 70%
• Solar energy gain - $36/day
• Natural gas savings for the
one SolarWall system for one
month were approximately
Assuming this is true for every solar wall system installed, their saving about 600,000 dollars a year, which means they will recoup their investment costs in about five years. The website mentions that good places to install this technology are on garages, hangars, warehouses and mainentence facilities. In addition to Fort Drum, eight other bases use this solar wall technology. Its encouraging to see the military thinking green and saving a lot of money in the process. Efforts like and similar to these are key to bringing the military's budget under control. And will only help in lowering our defecit and debt.