Coal Mining Museum Installs Solar Panels To Save on Energy Bill

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 18 2012 2:05 PM

Coal Mining Museum Installs Solar Panels To Save on Energy Bill

Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum
What better place for 200 photovoltaic panels?

Rafaël Delaedt / Wikimedia Commons

When a famous coal museum wanted to save some money on its electricity bill, it turned to the obvious power source. Yes, Wales' Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum has installed 200 solar panels on its roof.

The panels are expected to save the museum some $650,000 over the next 25 years, the trade magazine Renewable Energy World reported Monday. Not a bad deal for an up-front cost of about $115,000. "Coal is such an important part of Wales’ heritage, and yet green energy will play a major part in its future," the museum's manager told the magazine. "A solar powered coal-mining museum is a fantastic way to celebrate this national journey."

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Big Pit shut down in 1980 and reopened three years later as "a living, breathing reminder of the coal industry in Wales and the people and society it created," according to the museum's website. UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Philip Bump of the environmental blog Grist suggests that the United States could stand to turn some of its own coal mines into museums: "See how life used to be, kids, in the terrible times of yesteryear."

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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