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Will new TZB be nation’s first net zero energy bridge?

By integrating solar electric into the new TZ bridge design, the new bridge could generate enough electricity to supply nearly 100% of the bridge’s own electrical needs.

The decisions on the new Tappan Zee Bridge are in. We know who is going to design and build the bridge–“Tappan Zee Constructors” consortium. We know which design is the winner–the least expansive one at $3.142 billion!

We also know the existing bridge will be removed. We know roughly how long the construction is supposed to take–Five years, two-and-a-half months. We know the new spans will be transit-ready–with lanes available for bus rapid transit.

It is time to revisit a question we asked earlier this year.

Will we add a 3-mile long solar farm on its south facing surfaces? 

The new bridge can easily become the nation’s first Net Energy Zero bridge. Not for nothing, the US Army is all over net zero energy capacity. As the Army Energy Programs says,  “Net Zero Is A Force Multiplier.”

Electricity to operate bridge will need to come from somewhere. Why not farm it from the sunny side of the bridge itself?

In a prior column, we imagined a photovoltaic system that was 1 panel deep and 3 miles long.  The wining design for the new bridge calls for 2 parallel bridge spans some sixty feet apart. Hence, the new bridge has not one, but two south-facing spans.  Great!

The surface area available per span for mounting building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is roughly 110,000 square feet. The available surface on both spans would hold 10,000 solar modules.

That many high quality modules gives the bridge a power plant with a system generation capacity of about between 2.8 and 3.0 megawatts. That system in turn would produce about an average of 3.5 million kilowatt hours per year for 25 years.

In other words, the new bridge could generate enough electricity to supply nearly 500 area homes for 25 years.

Or, the solar farm could supply nearly 100% of the bridge’s electrical needs for lighting, toll operations, and maintenance equipment could come from integrating solar into the design now. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Andromachos December 23, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Nice. There is also technology out there that translates vibration energy to electricity. Google piezo road plates.
Leo Wiegman December 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Thanks, Andromachos. You are right. A lot of good technologies exist that the new TZB coud use to become the Marion's first net energy zero bridge.

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