Coal use is in a global decline. Recently, we reported that Finland is on track to ban coal and the largest coal plant in the American west is slated to close. And these are just two stories painting part of a picture of a future without coal.
Of course, it won’t be completely without coal! Coal will still exist in museums, like the Kentucky Coal Museum. And while some politicians argue that coal can be saved, this coal museum seems to think otherwise. Recently, they installed 80 solar panels on their rooftop in order to save about $8,000 a year on their utility bill.
Yeah. A coal mining museum installed solar panels. The irony isn’t lost on us either.
Environmental groups around the world are getting a good chuckle at it, but it’s also symbolic of where the global energy grid is headed. The rapidly decreasing cost of renewable energy is now giving even cheap natural gas a run for its money.
The Kentucky Coal Museum, which is owned by Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College, features a variety of exhibits that feature a two-ton block of coal, early mining tools, and a collection of photographs that document the history of coal mining in the area.
Tre Sexton, the owner of Bluegrass Solar, the company hired to install the panels on the museum, was taken aback by the request.
“Really the first time that I sat down and was talking about it with everybody, I was like, are you for real?” he said. “They’re really going to go for this?”
Sexton understands exactly why the museum wanted to do it. The cost of energy is increasing, and the cost of solar is at record lows. By making the move, they would save about $8,000 a year. For a business without a large revenue stream, that’s huge.
“It’s like, ‘This might be coal country, but I cannot afford $600 a month.’ And that’s for a home,” Sexton told the Courier-Journal. “If it’s a business, God be with them, [the bills are] in the thousands.”
Once fully operational, the museum’s solar array will produce 60 kW of power at its max capacity.