Climate scientists visit town

Last modified: 1/12/2016 10:15:52 AM
Peterborough earned statewide and national recognition for building the largest solar array in New Hampshire. Now, the town, with a population of less than 7,000, has gained international attention.

Eight experts in climate change and renewable energy visited the solar array field Tuesday. They hope to bring the example Peterborough set back to their African, Asian, European and Caribbean countries.

“I hope to carry the message home [to Nigeria],” said Jude Isiayei, the executive director of Coastal Heritage and Economic, which develops programs to stay ahead of the impact climate change would have on rural and coastal communities in Nigeria.

“There is an energy crisis in my country,” he said. “We must place [solar panels] in Nigeria, in towns and cities, to step down the energy crisis.” A majority of Nigeria is not connected to the country’s electrical grid; even for those who are, blackouts are an almost daily occurrence.

Isiayei and the rest of the group of scientists toured New Hampshire for three days through the International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. State Department’s professional exchange program.

Aside from visiting Peterborough, the group met with the University of New Hampshire, the N.H. Sustainable Energy Association, the Strafford Regional Planning Commission and the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience.

In Peterborough, Chris Andersen of Borrego Solar spoke to the group about the solar array field. Borrego Solar installed the equipment, and will sell the energy generated from it to the town once it goes online next month.

Frederick Kenneth Appiah of the Ghana Energy Commission snapped pictures of the equipment with his phone as he listened attentively to Anderson. Afterward, Appiah acknowledged that he has seen solar arrays larger than Peterborough’s, with its 3,000 panels on 2.7 acres.

Still, he said, it was “impressive.”

“It portrays how sustainable energy for climate change adaptation is some of the technology we need,” he said, referring to Ghana and worldwide.

Jim Van Valkenburgh of Froling Energy spoke to the group about wood pellet boilers in a utility building on site.

Karthik Ganesan, a senior research associate on the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water in India, asked Van Valkenburgh if wood pellets generate comparable energy to coal, which Van Valkenburgh said they do. Ganesan was intrigued.

“It’s just so clean,” he told the Ledger-Transcript. India generates much of its energy from coal, but has minimal emission standards.

Before visiting the solar array field, the group met with Barbara Miller and Tyler Ward of the Select Board at the Town House. Miller asked the group if humans are smarter than frogs, quoting author Jeff Goodell. “If you put a frog in a pot and slowly turn up the heat, it won’t jump out,” she said. “We humans seem to have been doing pretty much the same thing. We are all in this together.”

Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228, or Follow him on Twitter @Benji_Rosen.


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