We’ve just installed two different solar arrays at Heart Hill that will cover 100% of energy use of our tasting room, restaurant, wineries, water recycling system and wells. We also installed two different charging stations for electric cars that run directly from our system: one for Tesla on for non-Tesla EVs. This change is in addition to our LEED Certification, and starting in October of 2015, we're all solar all the time - from our winery pumps to our kitchen lights.
We had two goals at the outset of the project: first, install a system that covered 100% of our energy use at Heart Hill; second, given the size of the system needed, make it as inconspicuous as possible. To accomplish both we had to get scrappy with system design and placement.
We used high efficiency panels to keep the total square footage of the system to a minimum. Specifically, Sunpower SPR panels that perform at approximately 20% efficiency (the percentage of light that hits the solar cell that gets converted to usable energy).
ARRAY # 1 - is mounted on the ground to the left of our tasting room. This system is composed of approximately 510 panels for a total size of 168 kW (DC). We will ultimately hide this system with a chain-link fence and crawling berry bushes (jam for the restaurant anyone?)
ARRAY #2 - is mounted on the roof of our winery. This system is larger - with 670 panels for a total size of 220 kW (DC). We have additional room on the roof of our winery if we need to increase our system size to maintain 100% coverage.
The total size of both arrays is 388 kW with an estimated annual production of over 600,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) per year, or enough to completely offset our energy use at Heart Hill.
The brilliant part is solar is not a hard decision to make for businesses with a long-term view. A rough breakeven point on our investment is five years and it will save us between $2 million and $3 million dollars in electrical bills over a 20 year period. So don’t be surprised if more businesses in our area make the conversion over the next year.
This is one more piece in our mission to keep building on any sustainable practices that we can. Click here to read more about our general approach to becoming more sustainable and specific steps we take to get there.