A fruit orchard on the east coast of the United States is using the sun to grow fruit and provide power to the farm.
Instead of apple trees, a field of 1,050 solar panels now adorns a two-acre section of Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts. The 220-kilowatt ground-mount photovoltaic (PV) system installation makes it the largest system in the state.
State and federal officials, along with Carlson Orchards President Franklyn Carlson, were on hand during the official ribbon-cutting ceremony held last week. The new system will power several large-scale refrigeration buildings and cider press. Installed in a high visibility area, thousands of people visiting the family-owned farm will see the solar panels as they enter the orchard.
The system will provide about two-thirds of the power needed to run the 120-acre working farm, reducing its annual energy costs from US$80,000 to about US$20,000. It is expected the system will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 3,700 metric tons annually.
The US$1.25 million project was funded by federal, state and private sources and grants. Lighthouse Electrical Construction installed the system. Stephen Kelleher Architects assisted with the design and Evergreen Solar, Inc. provided the ES-A-210W solar panels. The inverter and data acquisition system were manufactured by Solectria Renewables, LLC.
Carlson Orchards has been in the fruit business since the 1930s. With acres and acres of fruit trees, Carlson Orchards grows 60,000 bushels of apples and makes more than 500,000 gallons of fresh apple cider each year. Customers can even pick their own apples, blueberries, nectarines and peaches every day.
Image credit: Olga Koldin
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