You know solar energy has gone mainstream when it trickles into the daily operation of a big government facility. In this case I am not talking about solar-powered, top-secret missile launchers – or solar-powered, military radios. No, I am talking about the new tree irrigation system at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington DC.
According to a report published by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) the National Arboretum has installed a solar-powered drip irrigation system in one of its remote nurseries that’s about a half mile from the nearest power line. The new system consists of six photo voltaic panels that collect sunlight, a battery that stores the energy, and an inverter that converts the stored energy into electricity used to run the nursery's drip-irrigation system.
This project was a staff-driven initiative to cut operation costs. The savings increase with each day the system is in use. In this case, installing the solar-electric system was less expensive than running power lines to the nursery. And the electricity will be virtually free for the 25 year expected lifespan of the PV panels.
For more information on this and other projects at the National Arboretum, click here.
Photo courtesy USDA.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.