The largest solar thermal project in the Midwest was unveiled Friday atop the RiverCentre convention center in St. Paul.

The $2 million project includes 144 solar panels covering about half the size of a football field on the center’s roof, according to a news release from District Energy St. Paul, which operates the project.

District Energy said the project will produce 1 megawatt of energy annually, enough to power about 50 homes per year. It also said the project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an annual amount equivalent to taking 90 vehicles off the roads.

The panels heat water used for space heating and hot water in RiverCentre, with any excess getting distributed throughout downtown St. Paul, said the company, a non-profit utility that provides hot water service to about 80 percent of the downtown area.

District Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program each contributed $1 million toward the project, which started operating on Tuesday.

source: sustainablebusinessoregon