The White Mountain Energy Project:

Bringing 21st Century Energy Technology to the Barcroft Field Station

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Setting up monitoring equipment at observatory dome photo ©paul kennedy

Project Goals and Results

The Goal of the White Mountain Energy Project is to improve energy quality and reliability, increase safety, reduce costs, and test innovative technologies at WMRS field stations. The first phase of this project will be to assess the energy situation at the upper field station at Barcroft (and secondarily, Crooked Creek). The current energy situation at Barcroft is problematic for several reasons:

To carry out this project, WMRS has teamed up with Professor Scott Samuelsen and graduate students (Jim Meacham, Jim Maclay, Patrick Couch and Ryan Gaylord) in the Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) at UC Irvine.

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photo ©paul kennedy

Simulations indicate that WMEP will create many benefits for Barcroft operations:

Schematic diagram showing proposed WMEP intallation at Barcroft (pdf version)

Schematic diagram showing proposed controls system for WMEP

 


ANALYSIS

Example of power monitoring data from 2004. This kind of detailed record is used for simulating power demand scenarios under different conditions.

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In October 2004, we simulated winter heating demand by turning electric heaters on and off. For example, the simulation began at 8 am and ramped up to full capacity at around 9:30.

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The APEP team has developed a quantitative dynamic simulation model which illustrates the costs and benefits of integrating distributed energy resources into the system.

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The simulations show that the proposed system can readily convert to a permanent off-grid system. This is important as our grid connection is aging, and replacement would be prohibitively expensive.

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SYSTEM COMPONENTS

Microturbine Generators are low-maintenance, low emissions, and co-generate hot water for high overall efficiency Below: Capstone Model C-30 (photo: Capstone Turbine Corporation)

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Amorphous Silicon Photovoltaic Panel mounted on roof of Pace Lab in April 2005. This test panel survived the winter and remained snow-free since October 2004, showing the utility of using flexible panels on the Pace Lab roof. WMEP calls for nearly complete coverage of the south-facing roof.

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The APEP team is investigating wind as an energy source for Barcroft, but certain issues need to be resolved before this type of energy can be captured. WMEP calls for installation of a demonstration “Turby” unit to be sited at the Pace lab.

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This schematic shows a model hydronic heating system like the one that will be installed at Barcroft. The hot water storage is planned to be much larger (4-6,000 gallons) and solar hydronic panels will be added as funds become available. At the heart of the system are two propane-powered “Munchkin” boilers that are highly efficient at all demand levels.

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