The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois unveiled a large solar panel installation with 913 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the aquarium‚Äôs marine mammal pavilion.
The 265-kilowatt project will save Shedd more than $100,000 annually in energy costs, and help them maintain power during blackouts.
It is the biggest such solar array project by any cultural institution in Illinois that is funded through a public-private partnership.
The opening of the solar array, attended by Illinois Gov. pat Quinn, kicks off the first phase of Shedd‚Äôs Master Energy Roadmap to cut the 83-year old building‚Äôs energy consumption in half by 2020.
The roadmap, launched in Jan 2013, was created by Shedd in partnership with the City of Chicago, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Development, Citizens Utility Board, and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition.
Karen Weigert, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago, worked with the Civic Consulting Alliance and West Monroe Partners to come up a plan.
The experts tasked with creating the roadmap designed a smart building prototype that will make Shedd one of the first clean-powered cultural institutions. Once implemented, the plan will save almost 10 million kilowatt hours annually ‚Äì equivalent to the power consumption needs of 750 households.
Apart from on-site renewable energy generation, other plan elements in the roadmap include:-
- Advanced intelligence with new sub-meters that will provide real-time information about Shedd‚Äôs energy use;
- Reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency by replacing 75 percent of the lights with LEDs;
- Reducing utility bills through automation and control to reduce energy usage during peak periods and take advantage of real-time pricing to use electricity when the price is low; and
- Integrating new energy storage technology.
The total project cost is around $1.1 million, with $250,000 being provided by the State of Illinois.
Governor Quinn said the Shedd Aquarium‚Äôs green energy efforts demonstrate how Illinois is paving the way for advancing sustainable energy and next-generation clean technology.
Shedd President and CEO Ted A. Beattie said that preserving and protecting the living world is at the heart of Shedd, and added that they know sustainability and conservation begins at home in the aquarium.
Chris Curtis, president and CEO of Schneider Electric North America which helped Shedd build the photovoltaic panels, said this was an exciting project for them, and also for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.
Chicago CSO Karen Weigert said they were thrilled to see Shedd take on significant changes to move towards a complete transition to renewable energy.