Solar thermal project gets boost from ocean's glare | News

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Solar thermal project gets boost from ocean's glare
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CAPE NEDDICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Cliff House Resort and Spa has been welcoming guests to the Maine coast since 1872 and trying to find new ways to go green.

"I think that every resort needs to be a steward of the land, as well as a business," stated owner Kathryn Weare, whose great grandmother founded the resort.

For four generations, Weare's family has been finding different ways to go green.

"Unfortunately, our guests do not accommodate some of the green principles that were available 141 years ago, like passing the towel for the Saturday night bath," she said with a laugh.

All those bathrooms in the resort's rooms, combined with heated pools, hot tubs and a spa, use a tremendous amount of hot water, so she sought out an environmentally friendly way to help reduce her energy costs.

Weare brought in the engineers from Nelson and Small to help design a solar thermal system, with the hope that she could generate enough hot water to provide water for the resort's spa building, its rooms and pools.

"Being next to the ocean, bright sun, no obstructions whatsoever, we thought it would be ideal," explained David Small, the company's chief operating officer.

"A big misconception is that you need hot sunny days in order to produce solar thermal energy," added Small.  "Even on an overcast day in below zero temperatures, this system is producing a lot of energy."

But the engineers who designed and installed the system never expected they'd get such a big boost from the ocean.  They predicted the system would produce enough hot water to save them having to burn roughly 10,000 gallons of fuel, but in reality it produced enough hot water to save them from using about 20,000 gallons.

"That is 100 tons of carbon emissions that are being avoided," said Small.  "There were some surprises, and we've now found ways to put the extra energy to work."

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