To Save Money, Of Course!I don't know about you, but I like museums. It's one thing to read about something or see a video, but experiencing things in person always feels more real. The 'Big Pit' National Coal Museum is located in South Wales, UK, and it features the history of coal mining, with even an underground tour (down to 300 feet with a miner guide). While I personally think that coal should be phased out as an energy source because it pollutes more than pretty much all the alternatives, I'm no revisionist; I don't think we should forget the good things that coal did for our civilization and all the hard work, ingenuity, and sacrifice of coal miners.
Yet I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw this headline. I think it's definitely a sign of the time that the National Coal Museum in the UK, the birth-place of coal-powered industrialization, is now powered by solar panels:
Wales’ National Coal Mining Museum located at Big Pit, Blaenavon, Nr Abergavenny in south Wales, now has 200 photovoltaic solar panels erected on the Big Pit museum’s roof with another 200 solar panels installed on the National Collection Centre in Nantgarw. [...]
Coal is such an important part of Wales’ heritage and yet green energy will play a major part in its future. A solar powered coal-mining museum is a fantastic way to celebrate this national journey," said Peter Walker, Museum Manager of Big Pit. "But it’s far from just symbolic — the museum will benefit from huge reductions in energy bills and a solid return from the feed-in tariff.”
The aerial photo above isn't detailed enough for me to be sure, but I think there's at least one row of solar panels on the building on the left. I'm not sure that's all of them, though. Maybe the photos were taken a while ago.
They estimate that the solar panels will save the museum around £400,000 ($650,000 at today's exchange rate) over the next 25 years, with any surplus power produced sold back to the power grid. Good deal!
I just hope the Solar Power Museum isn't powered by coal...