UK’s National Coal Mining Museum Goes Solar
Coal and solar, environmentally speaking, do not mix. Where there is solar, coal is usually not present, or at least it is ideal that it should not be present.
That is why this headline from Renewable Energy World has raised a few eyebrows. Coal and solar together? That’s right, but not exactly the way one might normally picture it. That is because UK’s National Coal Mining Museum is actually now adopting the use of solar energy.
The National Coal Mining Museum is a history-filled monument that is located at Overton in West Yorkshire, England. The location of the museum (the Big Pit) was formerly home to some of the oldest and largest working mines in the world. The museum celebrates the development of the coal industry, how it shaped our civilization through the years, and how it drove the economy for the United Kingdom. After all, even if coal is dirty and harmful for the environment, it did help our civilization stand at its current position today.
The news was that this exact museum, now a World Heritage Site, is now powered by at least 200 individual solar PV panels. If you are finding one of the greatest ironies of small-scale green energy system deployment, this is it. The project was directly funded by the museum itself, and it cost about £70,000 ($113,000) to build. It is expected that the museum could save up to £400,000 ($640000) in the next 25 years using the solar energy system. As a facility that is not centered on human livelihood or on any industrial operation though, it is expected that the museum would have surplus solar energy on certain days, which it would feed to the grid accordingly.
According to the report, Museum Manager Peter Walker believes that even though coal is an important part of Wales’ heritage, the only way forward is to actually invest in green energy technology. And what better way for us to celebrate the transitional journey towards greener energy sources than to build a solar-powered coal-mining museum.
Although we can probably take this news with a chuckle and a dash of astonishment, it is probably also worth considering the implications of such symbolic acts a bit more seriously. Perhaps we should take it a sign of the times? We could see it as one of the clearest evidences that solar energy is already ramping up steadily towards economic competence, as it is one of the most anticipated green energy sources that would take center stage in our civilization in the near future.
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