Phoenix city in Arizona has become the first in the US to harnesssolar energy to provide cool air to commuters waiting at one of itsurban light rail stations. At the push of a button, chilled air fromsolar powered coolers will blow into the rail station to provide comfort in a city where daytime temperatures can reach a scorching 118 degreesF. The chilled air can bring down the temperatures inside the steel andglass covered rail station by 40 degrees. The chiller will shut offafter 15 minutes of operation to conserve energy. This system willoperate in the daytime during the summer months, i.e., from May toSeptember.
The initiative for this development was taken by the city MayorPhil Gordon, who brought the idea back after a visit to Dubai. The Dubai Metro, which opened in 2009 as the world’s largest fully automaticdriver-less metro system, has also set some very impressive benchmarksin sustainability and passenger comfort both on-board its trains and atits rail stations.
Mayor Gordon took the idea to the local utility NRG Energy, whichagreed to fund this $300,000 project. NRG will also operate and maintain the system. After learning from this first rail station, Phoenix cityadministration plans to extend this concept to other rail stations aswell and fund the chiller installation from the revenues they get fromadvertising concessions at the rail stations.