Monday, April 6, 2009

SE Portland Block Plans District Solar Heat

Neighbors on one entire block in Southeast Portland's Sunnyside neighborhood are on board to install a district solar thermal system to heat their homes.

Only a handful of the 14 houses on the block get enough sunlight to power a solar system. But those choice spots can get enough energy to heat the whole block, said John Sorenson, president of MidTech Energy and a consultant on the project. So the neighbors, inspired by MidTech's Sunnyside district energy plan, which has stalled due to lack of funding, decided to pool their resources and install their own solar thermal system. (They're also seeking funding from the city for upfront capital costs and will need city approval to install it.)

They'll start with full energy efficiency retrofits in every house on the block to ensure the renewable power doesn't go to waste. Then the fences will come down and they'll dig up their backyards to install a series of interconnecting pipes. Solar panels on a central plant and on a few neighbors' roofs will then heat the water, which is pumped to heat exchange systems in every house on the block.

Instead of rebuilding the fences, the neighbors also plan to install a bioswale down the center of the block for rainwater catchment and permaculture. Sorenson hopes the project will serve as a pilot for the Sunnyside district energy plan.

See my past coverage in the Daily Journal of Commerce here and here.


DJC said...

What a perfect name: Sunnyside.

Libby Tucker said...

Yes. Solarside just doesn't have the same ring to it.