The largest collection of solar air heated buildings in the world can now be found at the military base of Fort Drum, in upstate New York.
50 SolarWall systems (totaling over 110,000 ft2) have been installed on 27 military buildings and will collectively generate over 4MW of peak thermal energy. The project is extremely significant in terms of the sheer magnitude of energy and CO2 savings, and shows the tremendous potential for solar thermal when it is deployed on a large scale.
By using the free energy of the sun – instead of burning fossil fuels for heating purposes - the base will displace over 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide each and every year at one of the coldest locations in the United States. The base is also projected to realize fuel savings of 44 billion BTU/h (46,000 GJ) per year.
The SolarWall air heating system heats the ventilation air that is required in commercial and industrial buildings using a patented transpired solar collector developed by Conserval Engineering. Ventilation heating is typically one of the largest single energy requirements for these types of buildings, which is why solar air heating can generate such significant overall energy reductions.
In late 2005, the Army Corp of Engineers at the base commissioned a multi-million dollar retrofit program to upgrade 27 of their buildings to include solar air heating systems. The technology heats the ventilation and makeup air required in vehicle maintenance garages, warehouses, hangars, etc., displacing the traditional heating load (and resulting energy costs and CO2 emissions).
In 2006, the United States Corp of Engineers identified the transpired solar collector (branded as SolarWall) as one of two cost-effective technologies that are ideally suited to military buildings, such as vehicle maintenance garages.
Eight other U.S. military bases also use the SolarWall technology, including Fort Carson, Norfolk Naval Base, Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca, Buckley Air Force Base, Fort Lewis, and Peterson Air Force Base. A SolarWall system was also installed at the British base CFB Suffield in Alberta, Canada this past winter.