Renewable energy is becoming one of the most powerful forces in today’s Napa Valley.
The valley’s altitude, cool air and fog, colder nights has created a growing season that is perfect in length. This together with long days filled with plenty of sunshine means that renewable solar energy will build up quite fast and if we have solar panels we will have the opportunity to store up energy.
Many wineries in Napa Valley are investing in solar trackers which use GPS to make their solar panels follow the sun for maximum exposure. These techniques work even on days with clouds, as the energy is still coming down. Using clean and renewable energy in today’s wineries is cost effective and good for the environment.
How cost effective? For one winery in California during harvest season the electrical bill with solar was about $9,500. The cost of electricity for the previous harvest was over $80,000. The solar panels provided over 90% of the electricity required to operate both the winery and tasting room. You can hire an electrician like 110220v.com to install the electricity infrastructure needed for this.
How does a professional winery make the best use of solar power? Well the one we studied collects information in using inverters. It collects sun radiance, rainfall, wind strength, temperature and more. It sends that data to a computer that controls the solar panels. The computer can change the arc they are pointed in, if wind is getting too high, it can lower the panels to protect them. It can even wash them during the rain.
If they have extra energy the computer can let the local electric utility (PG&E) issue them credits in exchange for using the excess energy. If the PG&E power grid is experiencing peak demand that is straining its resources it can alert the computer and request energy that way as well.
The computer will also report when any solar panel experiences an outage. The computer will immediately send the information about the exact panel that is out and they can be repaired. Within an hour, the computer reports its exact location and dispatches a repair crew.
Since the solar system was installed in our test case, the employees of the winery have become much more “green oriented” and are more conscious of the power they use. It contributes to an overall consciousness about the use of energy. The renewable energy information is shared with the staff and helps them claim ownership for the successful running of the winery.
One of the most powerful benefits of installing the solar power is the “net cost negative” aspect of the power. At a certain point in the near future, the cost for installing and running the solar energy will be eclipsed by the savings gained by using the renewable energy from the sun. After that point they could actually be making money by having solar energy. And their continuing energy costs will be zero.
Winemakers need to be constantly improving their relationship with the environment. Unsurprising given their reliance on mother earth for their product. The best way to do this is to take a long term view towards the environment. Say 30, 50, 100 year views, installs core values which create a tremendous synergy with both their resources and their customers.