Agri Businesses Can Achieve Big Benefits from Solar Energy
While a fruit packing and storage company in California is eliminating its entire utility bill with a 622 kW solar power system, a Georgia pecan farmer is selling all of the power generated by its 200 kW system back to the utility company under a five-year power purchase agreement.
Venida Packing, a packing and cold storage operation for California fruit farms, has cut its entire utility bill with a 622 kW dual-axis solar power plant from PV Trackers. The solar energy system, installed in the third quarter of 2009, has been in operation continuously for more than six months.
Chris Tantau, Venida’s operations manager, said the company selected PV Tracker’s PV system because of its dual-axis tracking design that required fewer panels, inverters and wires to meet the company’s power generation requirements.
PV Trackers said the dual-axis system can typically produce the same power as a fixed-tilt rack with 28 percent fewer panels, which significantly cuts up-front system costs. When an installed capacity is targeted, the PV Tracker system is expected to outperform a fixed-tilt rack by 30-45 percent and a single-axis tracker by 15-20 percent, according to the company.
The solar net metering program also helps Venida’s high peak season power pricing and lowers demand charges. In addition, the company also reports a boost in its image with its “green” practices.
Crop farmers in California are also installing solar systems as a way to cut their environmental footprint and reduce energy costs.
In Georgia, Trey Pippin, a pecan farm operator and the product of the University of Georgia’s bioengineering program, has installed a 200-kW solar energy system on his pecan farm in Arlington, reports Albany Herald.
The system, developed by Pippin and constructed by ESA Renewables of Florida, covers one acre and consists of 836 Suniva solar panels, PV powered inverters, a Schletter’s FS racking system and a Fat Spaniel monitoring system.
Operational on May 1, the system can generate more than 310,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually, which prevents 223 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The system is expected to offset 12 million pounds of carbon dioxide over 25 years, according to the article.
All electricity generated by the system is being sold to Georgia Power under a five-year power purchase agreement. Georgia Power is paying 18 cents per kWh for the solar power and has plans for 2.5 megawatts of solar capacity in the state.
Pippin told the newspaper that after five years, the energy may be used to help offset electricity costs. The farm is based out of the Shamrock Ranch in Albany, Ga.
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