A solar orchard powering Middlebury, Vermont’s Woodchuck Hard Cider (link is external) won two honors at a national solar show in Boston last week. The 150kW Bridport project utilizing Vermont-made AllSun Trackers was a “Project of Distinction” finalist and won “Project of Distinction 2014 Fan Favorite” at the PV America event. The 1.5 acre solar orchard (link sends e-mail) consists of 26 pole-mounted dual-axis AllSun Trackers, which use GPS and wireless technology to follow the sun throughout the day. The solar trackers (link is external) are manufactured locally by AllEarth Renewables (link is external) of Williston, Vermont. According to AllEarth Renewables, the solar tracker system boosts the energy production by up to 45 percent over roof-top installations.
The project received the award, which celebrates major achievements within the solar industry, from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).
SMA America, manufacturer of the SMA Sunny Boy inverters utilized in the project to maximize power production, submitted the solar orchard for the award. The farm was noteworthy for its use of virtual net metering on unused agricultural land to the Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC (link is external), maker of Woodchuck® Hard Cider (link sends e-mail), the original craft cider brand known for its authenticity and innovative cider varieties.
The use of the 26 distributed inverters also allowed the project to be sited on rural single-phase electric lines and avoid costly distribution line upgrades.
“We are very proud of our partnerships with AllEarth Renewables and the farmer hosting the Bridport solar orchard. We believe in working together as a community to maximize environmental sustainability, and are honored by the recognition the solar orchard recently received,” said Woodchuck Communications Manager, Nate Formalarie.
In its first year in operation, the 150kW project produced over 252,000 kWh, supplying approximately 15% of the power needed for the cidery. The project was installed in the winter of 2013. Production reports for the solar orchard can be found here (link is external).
PHOTO: The 150kW solar tracker orchard in Bridport, Vermont provided 15 percent of Woodchuck Hard Cider's energy.