Pittsburgh Announces World’s First Solar-Powered Trolley

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s Scott Becker recently announced an innovation in energy sources, mixing very old and very new. The museum is going all solar, making their working exhibit the first solar-powered trolley line in the world. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Energy Harvest Program funded just over a quarter of a million dollars, which will pay for an installed 36 KW photovoltaic (solar panel) system. The system will generate the electricity by which they run their vintage streetcar vehicles.

Guests learn by experience, enjoying a four-mile long ride on these perfectly restored streetcars. The scenery along the way is pleasant. With the new power source, the exhibit will be both a step back and forward in time. This exhibit proves that we can provide transportation without pollution.

Becker says he’s conveyed the concept to the Pittsburgh Port Authority, who will now consider using this as an example. Hopefully they’ll be designing their own solar system to power the city’s light rail system soon.

Solar Power Industries of Belle Vernon, a local company, is doing the system design and installation. The project will give the museum its own substation. It’s may not seem like all that much of an immediate savings, only $5000 a year. But when the museum reopens for the season on April 3rd, 2009, it will be running entirely on its own power, generated entirely by solar panels. This makes the trolley autonomous and entirely Green, and that’s worth a fortune!

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