Photovoltaics / Solar Power
The remote location of the historic 1874 Au Sable Light Station has always required on site power generation.
With an automated light and no longer a Coast Guard operated facility, providing electric power to the site has been a significant obstacle in the Lakeshore's ability to realize planned visitor services and site development.
With the assistance of a "Renew the Parks" partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, construction of a photovoltaic power system was undertaken in 1998. The system provides five kilowatts of photovoltaic power for:
1. Basic seasonal residence amenities for lighting, kitchen appliances, and water heating.
2. Lighthouse and associated building room exhibit lighting and audio-visual equipment power.
3. Water well and fire suppression pumps.
4. Fans for the additional component of this project, a geothermal system to pre-heat air to circulate throughout the lighthouse to minimize freeze thaw damage during the winter.
This 20 foot by 25 foot two-bedroom cabin has a kitchen, bathroom and living room. It houses up to four seasonal employees from May through October.
Its remote location has no commercial power available. In past years, LP gas was used for cooking, comfort heating, and to fuel a five kilovolt amps (KVA) generator. (The generator was larger than necessary.)
A photovoltaic array was installed on the cabin's roof to provide solar power. The 15 foot by 30 foot south facing roof section was covered with Uni-Solar PV shingles and now provide two KVA electric power system. These shingle collectors serve both as a roof shingle and the photovoltaic collector array.
As an integral part of the building's roof, this type of collector system helps maintain the rustic appearance of the building. The system now powers lights, a water pump (from a 120-foot deep well), and small electric appliances.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore installed its first campground photovoltaic powered well pump system in 1992.
Along with providing power for the pump itself, the system also allows for water chlorination to alleviate potential bacteria issues.
The effectiveness of this first pump system led to the installation of five more systems in the park.
The Lakeshore's well house plans were published in Design, a former National Park Service publication. The well house has become a prototype for numerous agencies.
Solar Well Pumphouse/Kiosk article (large pdf)
Did You Know?
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is home to two arctic disjuncts, plants whose normal range is far to the north. Arctic crowberry and thimbleberry thrive because of the cool and moist microclimates caused by Lake Superior. More...