Solar's up! 3 new, noteworthy California projects

Solar's up! 3 new, noteworthy California projects

Summary: I don't normally write about all the solar projects going live in a given week or month, because then this blog would have to become solar-tech pastures. But three on-site projects have just gone live in California that are each noteworthy in their own right.

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I don't normally write about all the solar projects going live in a given week or month, because then this blog would have to become solar-tech pastures. But three on-site projects have just gone live in California that are each noteworthy in their own right. On-site corporate solar investments are compelling to me because these are organizations that have gone beyond purchasing renewable energy from a utility company. They have contributed directly to the cleantech cause.

#1: The Nichols Farm The reason this one caught my attention is because the technology involved at the Nichols Farm pistachio processing facility is concentrator photovoltaic, and the project is being billed as the first of its kind in North America. The 1-megawatt capacity power plant is expected to produce approximately 2,244 million kilowatt-hours in its first year of operation, which is about 70 percent of the electricity needs for the pistachio farm's processing facility. The solar installation takes up six acres next to the plant, and it uses SF-1100 CPV technology from SolFocus. The units concentrate the solar, meaning they can collect more potential energy on a smaller piece of land than is typically possible with other types of solar. They have tracking units to follow the sunlight supply. The installation was designed and built by Bechtel.

Said the Nichols Farm owner Chuck Nichols:

"As an integrated grower, processor and marketer of pistachios, I appreciate the value of harnessing natural resources in an efficient, sustainable manner. That's why I selected SolFocus CPV from a list of solar options. The high-energy yield combined with the superior environmental footprint of the SolFocus systems made it an ideal choice for our facility, which processes pistachios for farmers throughout the Central Valley of California."

#2: Sacramento Depot Park

This is a 15-acre, 12,600-panel solar array located in a redeveloped military facility near Sacramento. The mounted-tracking solar technology is expected to supply about 40 percent of the power needs of the adjacent Depot Park commercial and industrial park. The generating capacity is 3 megawatts.

The technology is intended as a peak-shaving strategy, which means it will level out electricity needs from the grid during peak demand -- which is a big ongoing deal in California, especially in the summer. The companies involved in design and installation included SPG Solar, the California Governor's Office of Economic Development, and the City of Sacramento and its Greenwise Initiative.

#3: U.S. Foodservice The final on-site project I'll feature is at U.S. Foodservice in San Francisco. The 1.18-megawatt, 4,354-panel solar photovoltaic installation is expected to contribute about 40 percent of the facility's electricity needs during the daytime. Said U.S. Foodservice division vice president Phil Collins: "Our new solar panel system will benefit both the environment and the bottom line. Sustainability is a driving force at U.S. Foodservice, and we are continually evaluating and implementing ways to reduce our environmental impact while more efficiently serving customers."

The array is expected to produce about 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually when operating at peak generation capacity. That is roughly the amount that it would take to run 194 California homes for one year. The project was financed through a leasing arrangement with Delta Electronics.

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  • Ummm...

    You might want to look at the description of SolFocus' CPV system. It's not that it "can collect more potential energy on a smaller piece of land". Without breakthroughs in *conversion efficiency*, they still need the same area of incident sunlight to generate a kW of electricity. They *real* advantage of using the concentrators (even mentioned on their site) is that they're able to use much less actual solar cell material. by focusing the incident light onto a smaller patch of PV.
    joe@...
    • RE: Solar's up! 3 new, noteworthy California projects

      @joe@... Good explanation.
      rcasey101
  • Why only 2,244 kilowatt-hours?

    With 1-megawatt generation capability, why will the Nichols farm site only be generating 2,244 kilowatt-hours the first year - that's about 2 hours of operation at capacity?
    Gary Raymond
    • RE: Solar's up! 3 new, noteworthy California projects

      @Gary Raymond It's also a very low figure for 70% of a farm's needs. Must be a typo - should say Megawatt-hours, perhaps.
      steve_jonesuk@...