The Saint Louis Zoo now has a new, 31-kilowatt solar power installation on the roof of its Safari Gift Shop at the South Entrance—making solar the primary power supply for the gift shop.
The system’s 96, 3 x 5-foot photovoltaic modules (panels) produce enough electricity to keep three to five homes powered up year round and is expected to save the Zoo $4,500 in net average annual energy costs over the system’s 25-year warranty period ($111,740 total over 25 years). It also offers a source of pollution-free power generation.
Visitors to the Zoo can view real-time and cumulative generation and the system’s air quality benefits (emission reductions made possible by the system) either from the Zoo’s website or from a new digital kiosk found on the South Arrival Experience bridge leading into the Zoo.
StraightUp Solar, a St. Louis-based solar energy integration company, donated the system to the Zoo. Founded in 2006, StraightUp Solar has installed multiple solar systems with a total generating capacity of three megawatts.
In addition to the donation, StraightUp Solar is offering a special $250 customer discount plus an additional $250 donation to the Saint Louis Zoo for each new system purchased now through Oct. 31. To receive these benefits, customers must simply post a photo of themselves standing before the Zoo’s new solar array/kiosk and Zoo sign to both the Saint Louis Zoo and StraightUp Solar Facebook sites.
“This environmental initiative is one among many at the Zoo. As a conservation organization, we work hard to save wild things in wild places around the globe, and we are also committed to conserving resources here at home,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Zoo.
“We have an exceptional recycling program and have significantly reduced water and energy use by installing more efficient systems,” he said. We hope to share our experience with this solar energy system with our guests so that they can evaluate the use of solar energy at their own homes or businesses.”
The Zoo’s Sunpower E20 monocrystalline solar energy panels are currently the most efficient at converting sunlight into energy when compared with other conventional photovoltaic collector types. This grid-tied, batteryless design ensures that all of the electricity is immediately used on-site at the Zoo. For more information on how solar systems work visit nrel.gov/solar/.
The state of Missouri has a renewable energy mandate that requires investor-owned utilities to obtain 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2021. To address this mandate, Ameren Missouri provides a $2 per watt rebate for solar energy installations.