Black Star Farms, a winery in Suttons Bay, Michigan, has installed a ground-based solar array to offset energy usage at its farm, inn and restaurant.
The solar energy project implemented at Black Star Farms was a fixed, ground-mounted solar array with a vibrated I-beam structure including a single array of 204 260 W modules for a total of 53.04 kW. It was installed by Harvest Energy Solutions, implementing SolarEdge optimizers and inverters. The solar field, consisting of three physical structures, was positioned next to the on-site petting zoo with an overall footprint of 7,232 square feet (64 by 113 feet). The system was designed to offset 90% of annual energy usage for the nearby wine tasting room. Cherryland Electric Cooperative commissioned the system on November 1, 2015.
According to a case study on the project written by Michigan State University researchers (published at msue.anr.msu.edu), Black Star Farms pays $0.06/kWh for electricity, and Cherryland Electric pays them $0.02/kWh they put back on the grid from their solar energy system, so the system generates savings from decreased energy consumption and, in some cases, excess energy production. The effective rate paid by the farm after distribution and surcharges is $0.11/kWh.
Total electricity produced as of May 2016 currently stands at $3,199 valued at $0.11 kWh since all electricity produced has been immediately used by the farm so far and is the full value they would have paid for electricity. If electricity production exceeds farm use for the day, that excess production is banked on their account and can be used at a future date but they only get a $0.06/kWh credit on their bill for it. That excess electricity production can also be sold to Cherryland Electric at $0.02/kWh.
Other wineries throughout the world have turned to renewable energy on their farms. The Scion Vineyard and Winery in Rutherglen, Australia, is tapping into the local abundant sunshine for more than growing grapes for its wines. Rising infrastructure costs prompted owner and winemaker Rowly Milhinch to install a new hybrid solar energy system for powering the business.
And Monticello Vineyards in Napa, CA, recently installed a solar system expected to offset 95% of their utility bill and saving the company thousands each month in electricity costs. The solar PV system, provided and installed by SolarCraft, includes 540 SunPower 327-watt solar panels which will produce 280,000 kilowatt hours annually.