SEPTA Takes Another Step Towards Sustainability

Cities need you. Support Next City and have your gift matched.Donate

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.

Tags: philadelphiainfrastructuretransit agenciesenergysubways

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 838 other sustainers such as:

  • Anonymous in Shreveport, LA at $5/Month
  • Karis in Rocky River, OH at $100/Year
  • Jolene in Chicago, IL at $75/Year

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    The 21 Best Solutions of 2021 special edition magazine

  • Donate $40 or $10/Month

    Brave New Home by Diana Lind