Sustainable Solar Thermal Energy

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The Himalayan Institute is proud to announce the installation of the largest solar thermal hot water system in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.

Last spring, the Himalayan Institute received a grant from the state of Pennsylvania for $51,000 to cover half the cost of a solar thermal system. A team of Institute members with backgrounds in architecture and green design worked with local Honesdale business Gravity Sun Power to design the system and write the grant proposal. The solar thermal hot water system is expected to heat an average of 1,200 gallons of water a day, and to generate more than 184,000 kilowatt hours annually. It will provide 70-80% of the Institute’s hot water needs, and save more than 3,600 gallons of propane each year.

The system includes thirty 4’ x 8’ flat panel solar thermal collectors, which are installed on a south-facing roof of the main building. These collectors raise the temperature of a heat transfer fluid which travels into the boiler room to heat water before it is distributed to sinks, showers, washing machines, and dishwashers.

This project complements the recent upgrading of the building’s original steam boilers to a system that is 50% more efficient. Upcoming projects in the realm of sustainable development include more energy efficient lighting and appliances, and a rainwater catchment system. Investigation is also under way into the feasibility of installing photovoltaic solar panels and a wind turbine to meet much of the Institute’s electrical power needs and to feed electricity into the area’s power grid.

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