Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, N.M. -- When Sandia's Hal Post saw the woman peer through the brush and wonder aloud about the large photovoltaic array some thirty yards from the visitors' path, he was absolutely delighted.
For it's notice that Sandia photovoltaics scientists and engineers are hoping the photovoltaics system will get. And what better place to be noticed than a national monument that attracts nearly 70,000 visitors each year, despite its relative isolation 26 miles south of Mountainair.
"This is a national park and it's a perfect place to put something like this," Post says. "Nobody wants to see powerlines overhead, or hear and see smoking diesel engines generating power in a remote location. Our national parks should be kept as pristine as possible and renewable energy sources help to keep them that way."
The photovoltaics array, which consists of 24 Solarex MSX-60 modules, each with a rated output of 60 watts, is powering the new visitor center for Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The center is located at Gran Quivira, one of three units that make up the national monument.
The monument consists of stone-and-adobe walls of the Anasazis, built between A.D. 700 and A.D. 1300, and representing the earliest stage of the pueblo society. They are intermixed with the ruins of mission churches, built by Spanish colonists in the early 17th century.
The Gran Quivira Unit of Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument was established in 1909 and covers 610 acres. It is operated by the National Park Service.
The new 1,800-foot, $275,000 visitor center replaces one built in 1935 and is scheduled to be formally dedicated in ceremonies on June 26. Sandia photovoltaics engineers, including Post and Sandian Mike Thomas, both of the Photovoltaic System Applications Department, will be there to recognize Sandia's contribution to helping to expand the use of renewable energy technologies.
The monument's new photovoltaics system is the outcome of Sandia's growing partnerships with the Interior Department's National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management , the USDA Forest Service, and the Department of Defense. Sandia assesses what these agencies have done so far with photovoltaic solar systems as well as the potential for their expanded use.
Hundreds of existing systems have been identified, with the level of satisfaction at more than 96 percent, and a tremendous interest has been expressed in expanding the use of these systems within the agencies, says Chris Cameron, manager of Sandia's Photovoltaic System Applications Department.
The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument photovoltaics system is a direct result of the Department of Energy's Renew the Parks program with the National Park Service. Sandia's Photovoltaic Systems Assistance Center recently won a 1997 National Park Partnership Leadership Award with the Denver Service Center of the National Park Service for "Resource Stewardship and Preservation," which came directly as a result of its work under "Renew the Parks."
Monument Superintendent Glenn Fulfer and Facility Manager Mike Schneegas say the partnership with Sandia has helped the National Park Service plan greater efficiency into the building. In fact, the visitor center represents a new approach to providing National Park Service facilities that include sustainability and efficiency in planning, design, construction, and operation. The building has motion-sensor lights, is situated to take advantage of winter sunlight, and even has floor and wall ties made from recycled car windshields. The PV system will operate a swamp cooler, lights, a computer for word-processing and e-mail as well as an interactive computer display that will allow visitors to call up desired information about the monument.
"This has been teaching us to be conservative with our energy resources," Fulfer says.
Adds Schneegas, pointing to the ruins: "What we've done is essentially what those people did 400 years ago – rely on the power of the sun and be efficient in conserving energy resources."
The photovoltaics system, Post says, will provide on average between 7.5 and 8 kilowatts of AC electrical energy per day from April through September, and about 5.5 kWh per day during the remaining months.
"With minimal air conditioner use, the PV system should meet a large portion of the total load during the summer months and nearly all the load during the winter months," Post says. "The park will control this fraction based on just how much electricity they use, primarily for lights."
Cost of the PV system is about $18,000, which includes a five-year full-service agreement. The cost was split about evenly between Sandia, through the DOE's Renew the Parks effort, and the National Park Service.
Salinas monument actually still is connected to an electrical grid which can provide additional power when needed. The solar energy system also includes a backup DC battery with AC converter that can provide uninterruptible power in emergencies.
The monument can sell electrical power generated by the PV system back to the grid when it is generating more power than needed. Fulfer says the National Park Service's goal is to break even and end up paying nothing for electricity.
Because of the initial cost of the PV system and the availability of an electrical grid, Post says the project initially won't be cost-effective . But he adds, "The project's value lies in Salinas's decision to move toward sustainable energy generation in the park and the interpretive benefits of demonstrating renewable energy to the visiting public."
Central New Mexico Electric Co-op is the local service provider, and Springer Electric Co-op helped put the service package together. Direct Power and Water Corp. of Albuquerque installed the PV system.
Sandia is a multiprogram Department of Energy laboratory, operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. With main facilities in Albuquerque and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has broad-based research and development programs contributing to national defense, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy.
Chris Miller, email@example.com (505) 845-5550
Larry Perrine, firstname.lastname@example.org (505) 845-8511
Hal Post (505) 844-2154