Solar Thermal Around Boston

Today I spent the day at one of the full day workshops kicking off NESEA’s (North East Sustainable Energy Association) Building Energy 12 Conference.   I went to Solar Thermal Best Practices and Performance Data organized by the Mass Clean Energy Center because I am looking into solar thermal options for my community.   It was a great workshop,  and if you’re in the Boston area I recommend the Conference this week (March 7 & 8, 2012) or at least the Tradeshow.

I’m still absorbing everything I learned today from the speakers from MassCEC, Paradigm Partners and BEAM Engineering.  However, in the afternoon, they took us to see three solar thermal installations.

Roof Mounted Solar Thermal Panels with the Boston Skyline Behind Them

The first installation was a fairly complicated one with collectors on the roof running a glycol loop, with a heat exchanger to water in a huge collector tank in a room on the roof, running down to a heat exchanger by the boiler on the first floor, to heat exchangers to the potable hot water supplying domestic hot water for a low-income building in Boston. 

roof mounted solar panels fastened to the roof to prevent moving in high winds
System is attached to the roof to prevent moving in high winds.  The speakers talked about working with the roofing manufacturer to not void the warranty.

underside of roof mounted solar array in Boston

The second system was on another Boston low-income housing building and it had both solar thermal and 17.5 kW of solar PV as well on the roof.

Roof mounted solar photovoltaic array with Boston Skyline
Brand new solar PV system

solar thermal on same roof in Boston as solar PV
Solar Thermal on the same roof – I was jealous of the space they had available!

The inverter is mounted underneath the solar panels on the roof
The inverters for the PV system were right out there on the roof

The third building we visited really surprise me, because I didn’t think they had the hot water demand for solar thermal, but it turns out that Fenway Park has events nightly through the winter and runs kitchens and has domestic hot water needs throughout the year.   They have solar thermal collectors feeding one of their domestic hot water systems and they have looked into other renewable energy options as well.

The Green Monster
The Green Monster
Solar thermal panels on Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
Solar thermal panels on Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
thermal storage tanks - Fenway is squeezed into Boston, and the mechanical systems are squeezed into Fenway
Fenway is squeezed into Boston, and the mechanical systems are squeezed into Fenway

I enjoyed getting out to see all these systems and pick the brains of a variety of installers, consultants and engineers.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures!

Happy Greening,

What’s the coolest place you’ve ever seen renewable energy?  Do you have a link to share?

MassCEC logo

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  1. Hi Alicia, great post! It was very nice to meet you yesterday, and we were pleased to have you at the workshop!

    Chris Beebe
    BEAM Engineering

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