The Grand Canyon| Solar power in the National Parks

Grand Canyon Visitor Center

Grand Canyon Visitor Center (NPS photo by Michael Quinn)

The time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil and the gas are exhausted. The minerals do not and can not renew themselves. Therefore, in dealing with the coal, the oil, the gas, the iron, the metals generally, all that we can do is to try to see that they are wisely used.

President Theodore Roosevelt

Today, the National Park Service (NPS) dedicates the largest solar installation inside Grand Canyon National Park. A total of 84 photovoltaic solar panels at the Park’s South Rim Visitor Center will produce 18 kW of electricity — replacing 30% of the Center’s current usage.

The installation is a collaborative effort between the NPS and the region’s primary utility, Arizona Public Service (APS).

“This partnership between APS and the Grand Canyon National Park,” said Barbara Lockwood, manager of renewable energy at APS, “has provided the state with an opportunity to educate, inspire and step forward as a true leader in renewable energy.”

1908 TR declares the Grand Canyon a National Monument

1908 TR declares the Grand Canyon a National Monument

An exhibit inside the Visitor Center will allow the Park’s 4.5 million annual visitors to learn how solar panels produce electricity, and about the vast potential for harnessing the sun’s energy in Arizona and elsewhere. A computer monitor will provide real-time information on how much electricity the panels are generating at any given time.

According to Park Superintendent Steve Martin, “This photovoltaic system will not only create a more sustainable future for Grand Canyon National Park, but will allow APS and the National Park Service to share with park visitors the vision of a more sustainable future for all of us.”

The NPS has used solar power at the Grand Canyon for years, but never for a project of this scale.

Many other National Parks, Monuments, Forests and Recreational Areas use solar power, and even more are “going solar” in the coming months. The images below feature just a few examples of solar power being put to use, today, on public lands across the nation.


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