SEPTA Takes Another Step Towards Sustainability

SEPTA has unveiled a plan to convert the kinetic energy generated by subway trains breaking at stations electricity, which it will in turn use in its system and sell to the City of Philadelphia.

Last week, SEPTA, Philadelphia’s regional transit authority, unveiled a new recycled energy and optimization project, which will store kinetic energy produced from trains on the city’s east-west subway line and integrate it into the regional electric grid.

A product of a partnership with Viridity, a green energy management company based in Philadelphia’s Center City, the Smart Grid Project works by capturing energy created when a train breaks at a station along the subway line. The energy is then collected in a battery energy storage system, designed by Saft Batteries, an industrial battery manufacturer based in Paris. From there, the stored energy is converted and redistributed into the grid using a system designed by Envitech Energy, a company located outside of Montreal.

The entire project, projected to cost $1.8 million, will not demand a single penny from SEPTA. Funding instead has come from a $900,000 grant provided by the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, awarded in 2010, and from Ben Franklin Energy Partners.

According to the company, this system will reduce SEPTA’s annual carbon emissions by 1,258 tons annually — roughly 100 houses’ worth. Moreover, the agency expects the system to cut its yearly energy bill by $90,000 to $150,000 and enable it to generate $75,000 to $250,000 in income from energy sales.

The project, still in its pilot stage, is slated for completion over the next two years. Currently, there are two installations. SEPTA has stated that it hopes to use revenues generated from the initial phase of the project to install systems at 10 stations along the line.

This system, being touted as first-in-the-world technology, would make SEPTA arguably one of the nation’s leaders in mass transit sustainability. Last year, SEPTA put a comprehensive strategy for limiting its carbon footprint. As part of this plan, SEPTA hopes to cut its overall energy consumption by 10 percent and reduce its green-house emissions by 5 percent by 2015.

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Tags: philadelphiainfrastructuretransit agenciesenergysubways

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