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Paul Stewart

Energy to Learn

Skip Steuart

Success Story or Solar Train Wreck?

Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center, Loudoun County, Purcellville, Virginia, USA

September 21, 2005 noon

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© 2005 Skip Steuart, All Rights Reserved.

Caption

Inspiring to some, depressing to others

How can you not be inspired by free energy from the sun? Rising fuel costs and recent disasters illustrate the importance of renewable, decentralized energy systems like this. Located just outside of Washington DC, the Franklin Park Barns will be used as a community and arts center. During an emergency or extended power outage the facility could become a national security asset .

The project began in 1997 under the auspices of The Barns at Franklin Park, Inc. The performing arts center is built on the foundation of a 19th century dairy barn complex, uses the original silo, and features a computer-controlled observatory. The plan is to power the facility with the solar array making it the first solar-powered arts center in the US.

The cement pad supporting the array measures 95 feet by 225 feet, and the 2,050 solar panels can produce up to 70,000 watts. Volunteers, contractors, donations, grants, permits, utilities, lawyers, and bureaucrats have combined to bring the project to this point. Recent changes in Virginia's net metering law will allow the barns to sell excess electrical energy back to the utilities.

Unfortunately the system isn't producing usable energy yet. Design changes need to be finalized, more wiring needs to be installed, some wiring must be repaired, and a new construction schedule must be created and executed. With sufficient funding and the help of management from Charles Bigelow (pictured), the array could come to life in 2006.

Equipment

Canon Rebel XT 8MP camera, Sigma 8mm lens, Kaidan steel head, Panotools & PTMac 3.0v55, Photoshop CS2 with 32-bit HDR, Cubic Converter 2.1
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