New Mexico (The Gaslamp Post) – It’s impressive to see and was intended to be one of the nation’s biggest modern marvels; a testament to what green energy can accomplish. Atop the roof of a rental car outlet at the Albuquerque Airport sits what was hoped to be a system that would cool the building in the summer and heat it in the winter.
This ingenious scheme of elaborate plumbing, dazzling array of mirrors, and the work of the world’s best minds…
That maze of water pipes that were going to be heated with focused sunlight, in order to operate a chiller in the summer and heat the building in the winter…
This biggest single project, which has taken over three years, had the cooperation of engineers and scientists the world over, and which has cost roughly $500,000 to produce – hasn’t done a damn thing.
It’s a boat anchor.
The project is being described as the biggest single system of its kind to have been built in the United States. It was a joint venture between the State of New Mexico, the Sunport, the New Mexico State University, London-based Heliodynamics, and the United States Department of Energy.
The state’s Energy, Mining and Natural Resources Department contributed $199,132 to the project, while the city contributed about $278,000, according to officials.
But from the beginning in 2009, it was something of an experiment, or a demonstration project, designed to test whether the idea could work on a large scale. However, the major setback came after Heliodynamics went out of business in 2010, leaving the project in limbo.
“(The department’s) Energy Conservation and Management Division funded this project with the belief that solar cooling was a worthwhile technology to pursue given the issues with cooling and electricity usage in the Southwest,”
The company Sunport invested in another airport project back in 2009, in which they were able to use photovoltaic panels to provide electricity for parking lot lighting. They boasted a cost cutting from $260,000 to just $60,000 annually.
Another project that was completed this summer replaced ALL of the airport’s runway lights with low voltage LEDs. It would stand to reason by their estimations, that panels which should have been able to produce enough electricity to power a neighborhood, should have been able to power a chiller.
Apparently all the king’s horses and all the king’s men need to go back to electrical engineering school and learn the difference between resistive and inductive loads.
Officials at Sunport say that they’ve been able to “scrounge enough parts” to complete the project, and remain hopeful that maybe the thing will be working sometime next year.