Seeing the (Sun)light

A museum dedicated to the coal industry will soon turn to renewables for its power. The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, is an institution that memorializes the state’s history in coal mining.

Now, with the intent of saving on power costs, the museum is switching to solar energy. According to communications director Brandon Robinson in an interview with WYMT, the project will save the museum at least $8,000 to $10,000 in energy costs on just one of their buildings alone.

"It is a little ironic," Robinson said in the interview. "But you know, coal and solar and all the different energy sources work hand-in-hand. And, of course, coal is still king around here."

Funding for the initiative was provided via a third party foundation, and the project will require the installation of 20 solar panels by Bluegrass Solar, costing around $17,000 to $20,000. Tre Sexton, who owns Bluegrass Solar, believes the investment will pay off within five to seven years.

Future of Solar Energy

Given how things are going in the field of renewable energy, it's fair to say that the world’s long history with coal is coming to a close — especially with the advent of multiple renewable energy sources becoming more accessible and affordable to the public than ever before.

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Renewable energy has been all over the news. In 2016, solar power became cheaper than , the U.S. installed its first commercial offshore wind farm, and innovations in the field continued to bring down the costs of safer, alternative energy sources. This year, Elon Musk is making a big push to make solar roof technology available to the public with his much anticipated solar roofs, which are poised to hit the market in April.

Perhaps the transition of this coal mining museum to solar energy will accomplish more than just cost cutting for the institution — for some, it may illustrate how we as a society are advancing towards a future of renewable energy.

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