Grgich Latest Winery to Plug Into Solar

by | Jan 23, 2007

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Grgich Hills winery in Napa Valley has contracted SPG Solar to complete a PV installation that will produce 170.08 kilowatts DC of electricity during peak production hours. When combined with a solar system that SPG Solar installed in 2005, the PV system is expected to meet 100% of the winery’s energy needs. SPG says that the system will pay for itself within five years. 

Grgich isn’t the only winery that has switched to solar power.

Last month, Napa Valley’s Merryvalle Vineyards installed a 277kW solar electric system for Starmont Winery that will generate enough clean electricity each day to power 78 average homes. Merryvalle’s SolarCraft PV system will provide 90-100 percent of the winery’s electricity needs.  Also last month, Akeena Solar completed the design and installation of a 126 kW solar power system for Peju Winery in Napa Valley.

Sonoma’s Rodney Strong Vineyards, has a 766 kW system installed by PowerLight. It was the largest for a U.S. winery until last June when Fetzer installed a 901kW photovoltaic solar panel system on the roofs of the bottling facility and Red Wine Barrel Room at its winery in Hopland, Silicon Beat reports. Fetzer’s system was developed by 3 Phases Energy and installed by PowerLight, Renewable Energy Access reports. Fetzer’s system was the first project financed through MMA Renewable Ventures’ solar fund, a vehicle for institutional investment in renewable energy projects nationwide.

Sonoma’s Cline Cellars made the switch to solar last year, Wine Business reports. The system now provides 100 percent of the winery’s annual electricity consumption for its production facility. The system, also by SolarCraft, is a custom-engineered, aluminum mounting structure that works well with the structural capacity of the winery’s steel warehouse and fermentation buildings. The winery’s roof spans 50,000 square feet and supports nearly 2,000 Sharp 208 watt solar panels, which generate 411 kilowatts at peak.

Other wineries with solar systems include St. Francis (PDF), Quivira Vineyards, and Shafer Vineyards, to name just three.

“It was an economic and philosophical decision to install a solar energy system at Grgich Hills,” said Assistant Winemaker Kevin Vecchiarelli. “We have a commitment to renewable resources, and put a lot of effort into creating a sustainable farming culture that benefits the land we use as well as the wine that we make. In creating a 100 percent self-sustaining winery, we wanted renewable energy to complete the cycle, and that’s what solar provides for us.”

Grgich’s PV system produces excess energy in the winter, when the vines are dormant and the winery’s energy use is lowest. The excess flows back to the power grid of the local utility, PG&E, for credit. The winery electric meter runs backwards on highly productive sunny winter days. Grgich taps into this utility credit during the summer grape-crush months when winery energy use is at its peak.

Phase I of Grgich’s system consists of 192 Kyocera KC 190GT panels mounted on the corrugated steel roof of the wine storage area, feeding DC power into a Xantrex 45 kW inverter. Phase II is constructed of 668 Kyocera KC 200GT panels mounted on the red roof tiles of the winery and tasting room, feeding into a Satcon 100 kW inverter.

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