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Water-Related News

USGS Taps Florida Sun for Energy in St. Petersburg

Harvesting the bountiful and renewable energy of the Florida sun, a new solar heating system that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save on energy costs is being installed at the U.S. Geological Survey facility in St. Petersburg, Fla. Evacuated-tube solar collectors will supplement the current natural-gas boiler to provide heat in the winter and reheat conditioned air in the summer. The evacuated-tube system uses no fossil fuels and is expected to make up the cost of the solar parts and installation in four to six years.

"President Obama signed an Executive Order that sets sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focuses on making improvements in their environmental, energy, and economic performance as well as reducing their greenhouse gas emissions," said Jack Kindinger director of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center. "By installing this solar heating system we are reducing the amount of natural gas used in our facility and replacing it with a renewable source: Florida Sunshine."

The solar collectors are being installed on the center's Bill Young Marine Science Complex. This building houses state-of-the-art laboratories that support USGS scientists conducting research on ocean acidification, coral microbiology, and other areas of coastal and marine geology. The building's air conditioning uses chilled water it receives from nearby University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, which passes through radiators in the ventilation system much like compressed refrigerant in a standard air-conditioning system would. Because the air is very cold, a heated water radiator is employed to warm the air and control the final temperature. The result is optimum air temperature that continuously circulates in the building.