Solar Project Exceeds Plan. I'm Greg Martin as Line On Agriculture presents the Harvest Clean Energy Report.
Solar energy. It is only just now starting to become a viable energy technology in the U.S. Other countries have been embracing it for years. Now Idaho's Largest Solar Thermal Project is complete and exceeding performance plan. Carl Simpson, owner of Renewable Energy NW talks about the just completed Whiteside Dairy Solar installation.
SIMPSON: They like all dairies use quite a bit of hot water in each of their milking barns. They actually have three at this dairy. So we just installed solar hot water for one of their milking barns. It's actually 30, 20-tube panels. Each one of the tubes are 6 feet in length and it's approximately 5 feet across so it's a panel size of about 30 square feet of solar is typically how they are measured.
Projects like this while being costly up front can also pay for itself in a fairly short amount of time.
SIMPSON: It looks like right now that the project is going to pay for itself in a year and that's after grants. We've already been awarded a USDA REAP grant and that was 25% of the project cost and they're also eligible for a U.S. Treasury grant of 30%.
The dairy operation uses the hot water generated to clean out the milking barns after each group of cows comes through. They used to use propane to heat the water but cost fluctuations and the contribution to the green house gas problem prompted them to build the solar thermal array.
SIMPSON: It's a really good marriage of actual consumption because you can't turn the sun off and this system collects energy even on cloudy days and rainy days and so it's actually nice to marry it up to something that is using the energy everyday which works really well with the dairy because you also can't turn off the cows. And it was a really good project for the USDA helping a rural farmer with the renewable energy.
The project is designed to produce 1,000 gallons of hot water at 165 degrees on a daily basis but according to Simpson the project is exceeding its plan.
SIMPSON: We've actually performance tested the system and we're actually achieving kind of 200% of what the design capacity was for BTU generation. We're just really delighted with how it's performing.
For additional information on clean energy, visit harvestcleanenergy.org. That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.