Kennewick's Toyota Center may soon use solar energy to make hockey arena ice.
The project would be done by Infinia Corp. of Kennewick, which plans to install up to five PowerDish units close to the center. The project will be done with a little help from the city, which recently got a $100,000 grant from the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund.
Infinia's 3-kilowatt PowerDish generators use concentrated sunlight with the company's free-piston Stirling engine to generate electricity.
Work is expected to start in the fall once a site is selected, said Ken Nelson, city assistant public works director.
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It will save power, showcase Infinia's technology to visitors to the Tri-Cities and help the company market its technology, Nelson said. The technology currently is being deployed in Spain, India, China and the U.S. Southwest.
Last week, Infinia in partnership with the city of Richland, Port of Benton and the Tri-Cities Research District also broke ground for a solar power demonstration project near First Street and Stevens Drive in Richland.
Installation of the PowerDish units will save power for the Toyota Center, said J.D. Sitton, president and chief executive officer of Infinia. They will be connected with the Three Rivers campus electric supply to allow net metering of the power produced, he said.
In 2009, the electricity bill for the city-owned Toyota Center and Arena was $174,000, said Corey Pearson, executive director for the Three Rivers Campus, which includes the Three Rivers Convention Center and two other facilities. The bill goes up during ice-making months, Pearson said.
Infinia, which over the years has fine-tuned its solar technology, on Monday received a $3 million grant from the Department of Energy to develop a Stirling air conditioner. It's another application of Infinia's technology, said Sitton.
Infinia's prototype unit would use electricity to "pump" heat from indoors to the outside, he said. He said it would be more efficient than standard window air conditioners and won't produce any greenhouse gases.
Kennewick's solar project also is part of larger efforts by the city to save energy, Nelson said. The city plans to use an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant of about $590,000 that it got through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for energy-efficient street lighting, improvements at the wastewater treatment plant and HVAC systems at city facilities.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; email@example.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com