April 17, 2012
By Yael Borofsky
Photo: The NovaTherman ribbon cutting.
(TechnicalPhilly) Mayor Michael Nutter joined Center City-based thermal energy technology company NovaThermal Energy and the Philadelphia Water Department in the basement of the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant to cut the ribbon on newly installed commercial scale wastewater geothermal technology that can reportedly cut heating costs by 50 percent.
The trial of this new energy-saving heatpump is part of the Philadelphia Water Department’s participation in Greenworks Philadelphia, a citywide effort to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the country. The PWD’s pilot project marks the first time the technology has been demonstrated in the United States, according to a press release.
“I am proud to say that Philadelphia is taking another groundbreaking step in becoming the greenest city in America,” said Mayor Nutter in a release.
The technology, which was transferred to NovaThermal from China, is expected to save up to $18,100 annually and $216,600 in heating and cooling costs over the 15-year project. It is also projected to save the equivalent of 276,000 gallons of gas over the life of the project.
To be sure, cost-saving projections on new technologies are often a dubious science, particularly in the energy efficiency space. For example, when they first launched, the Nutter administration touted big savings for new, much ballyhooed Big Belly solar trash compactors in Center City when they launched, only to face claims two years ago from City Controller Alan Butkovitz that the benefit was exaggerated at best.
This new project, part of a mosty lauded shakeup at the city’s Water Department, is funded in part by the Obama administration’s stimulus act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), through the Greenworks Pilot Energy Technology (G-PET) Grant.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of SE Pennsylvania is contributing a grant to support the measurement and verification technical assistance of the project, according to a the release.