Location: Bowdoin / Sustainability / Activity / 2011 / kent island solar

Kent Island Installs Solar Hot Water System

Story posted July 05, 2011

In preparation for the arrival of summer researchers, The Bowdoin Scientific Station at Kent Island has recently installed a solar water heater, along with new photovoltaic panels and a battery bank.

The BSS at Kent Island was established in 1935 as a research facility and sanctuary for nesting sea birds, and it was Bowdoin’s first division to embrace renewable energy. It has been generating its electrical power from solar panels since 1989. Now, the students and faculty at Kent Island, who hail from Bowdoin and from around the world, will be able to take showers and wash dishes using solar power. Previously, dishwashing required the use of a propane stove to heat water-- the solar water heater presents a vast improvement in efficiency and convenience.

BSS caretaker Mark Murray worked to assemble the unit with help from students and faculty. For Murray and the Kent Islanders, the most challenging part of the process was transporting the unit from the mainland to the island. The island is fairly remote, located 5.4 (9 km) south of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. Janet Gannon, wife of BSS director Damon Gannon and a wearer of many hats at BSS, made an overnight trip to the mainland to collect the unit from a delivery truck. She then loaded it onto the late night ferry to Grand Manan, and onto BSS’ small boat for the final 7 miles of the journey.

After a complicated transportation, the wraps could finally be taken off of the new water heater. “It was a literal unveiling because the collector tubes had to remain shaded during assembly until the tank was filled with water,” says Damon Gannon. “It's a gloriously sunny day here on Kent Island, made even finer by the thought of the sun heating 158 liters of water.” When the tank was filled at Noon that day, the water was about 48 degrees F, and by 5:00 pm, there were 42 gallons of 130-degree water. Gannon remarks that the system is “remarkably simple and efficient.”

The researchers on Kent’s Island live frugally, and besides dishwashing, heating water for coffee is BSS’ next largest use of energy. Because of the success of the solar heater, hopes are high for a second one to heat coffee with. Gannon jokes that such a unit could be the world’s largest solar-powered coffee-maker. The new solar heater represents an ongoing and impressive effort by the BSS to use sustainable and innovative systems.

To view images of the solar heater unveiling, follow this link: https://picasaweb.google.com/116035155253499184039 .

"It's a gloriously sunny day here on Kent Island, made even finer by the thought of the sun heating 158 liters of water.” - Damon Gannon