20 December 2008

Solar comes to Minneapolis

Whilst the HOURCAR at the 46th Light Rail Station is not yet a plug in Hybrid (look for it in the next couple of weeks) the solar panels at the station are up. For now, and whenever the 46th Street LRT car is out on the road, the panels will feed power back in to the grid to power nearby things like, oh, the light rail!

We had an event with Mayor Rybak and Representative Frank Hornstein (60B) and we will have pictures from that soon!

The HOURCAR in front of the Metro Transit building which has 2kV of solar capacity on the roof.

A closeup of the building.

When not powering the HOURCAR, the panels feed in to the grid, helping to power various local users, including the Hiawatha Line!

And if you think that a few car-powering solar panels can't come close to running the LRT, well, you're partially right. We can't run the whole line. But light rail trains are very efficient (you can see a long website which compares different transportation modes here) so we'd make a dent. For example:

The Combino light rail vehicle [similar in size to the Hiawatha Line] is about the same energy efficiency as a Porsche Carrera GT; the Porsche seats 2, the Combino seats 67 and can carry 180. The efficiency advantage is huge, though the Porsche obviously accelerates better and has a higher top speed!

Obviously a Prius is more efficient than a Porsche. But when you are on the Light Rail, you're in a vehicle as powerful as a sports car, but which carries 50-100 times as many people! That's efficient.

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