“ERS was instrumental in the development of this project, and they’ve played a key role in all phases including securing grants, conducting the technical and economic analyses, and participating in the design and implementation process. They will also conduct commissioning and analysis upon completion of the installation,” stated Bill Rigos, facilities manager at Steinway.

The system works by gathering the sun’s rays with 38 rooftop solar concentrating troughs that reflect and focus the energy onto receiver tubes through which a thermal fluid circulates. Once the liquid reaches 340 degrees Fahrenheit, the system pumps it to a high performance 100-ton double-effect absorption chiller that uses the superheated water to develop a chilled water supply through a highly specialized process. The chilled water will be used to offer cool air and dehumidification to help maintain the consistent environment needed for Steinway’s piano manufacturing.

Another unique facet of this solar-powered system is that when cooling/dehumidification is not needed, the solar hot water can be converted to steam for process or space heating purposes in the factory.

“You don’t see many renewable projects targeted at the industrial sector,” states Mark D’Antonio, vice president of ERS. “However this type of system makes great sense when you can utilize the solar energy year-round. Steinway has seasonal loads for both heating and cooling/dehumidification, and they always have process loads. Anytime the sun shines, they can put the energy to good use.”

Since this sustainable project is being deployed in New York city, not usually considered a premier solar location, new features have been utilized to optimize the system. The collectors automatically track the sun across the sky, ensuring a maximum amount of sunlight collection. And for those cloudy days when there is very little direct sunlight, the dual-fuel chiller can use natural gas power as a substitute of solar to operate.

“Although one might not consider New York City to be the sunshine capital of the U.S.,” added D’Antonio, “there are adequate solar resources for this type of system. Couple this with high regional energy costs, available funding sources, and tax benefits, and this system becomes a good business proposition.”

The project combined with Steinway’s cost share; result in a simple payback of less than five years. ERS and NYSERDA will study the performance of this new system in order to develop and promote the technology with hopes that it will be suitable for wide adoption and implementation at other commercial and industrial facilities.

Steinway is a US-based piano maker.