A turnkey solar hot water heating system installed at a federal prison will, under peak conditions, collect 4 million BTU/hr of thermal energy.

The solar system at the Federal Bureau of Prisons Correctional Facility in Englewood, Colo., consists of 160 parabolic PT-1 collector modules comprising 22,720 ft2 of collector area situated on 1.7 acres of land. Ten rows of parabolic troughs track the sun all day and focus the light onto a receiver tube.

The tank stores hot water at temperatures up to 185°F (85°C). The system heats water for showers, laundry and kitchen use at the federal prison. It also heats buildings and generates steam to run industrial processes.

Manufactured and installed by Abengoa Solar, Lakewood, Colo., the system’s parabolic troughs track the sun throughout the day, focusing the sun’s light onto a receiver tube at the focal point of the parabola. A mixture of water and antifreeze is pumped through the absorber tube to deliver heat to a 16,000 gal hot water storage tank. The solar system uses a single 3 hp pump that consumes just 2.2 kWh of electrical energy.

Hot water is stored in the tank at temperatures up to 185°F (85°C) and delivered around the clock to serve more than 1,000 inmates and staff for showers, kitchen use and laundry. Over a year, the solar field should reduce consumption of natural gas used to heat hot water by more than 50 percent. Over the system’s 30-year life, the installation will reduce greenhouse gases by about 13,000 tons while contributing to the U.S. government’s goal to reduce energy consumption at federal facilities.

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