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Published on May 3rd, 2016 | by Jake Richardson


California Winery Uses Solar Power And Energy Storage

May 3rd, 2016 by  

The Stone Edge Farm and winery in Sonoma, California has a 32 kW solar array, 14 of Aquion’s 25 kWh M-Line battery modules, and an Ideal Power 30 kW multi-port power conversion system. The solar PV array provides electricity to the primary residence, workshops, and offices. The renewable electricity system is generating so much power that some can be sold back to the local utility.

SEF - Solar ArrayIt is also part of an onsite microgrid which was designed for self-consumption, load shifting, and peak shaving. “The Stone Edge Farm project is an excellent example of how long-duration advanced batteries plus solar PV can enable on-site renewable energy generation and maximize solar self-consumption,” explained Scott Pearson, CEO of Aquion Energy.

The organic winery consists of 16 acres and is located near downtown Sonoma. Many organic vegetables are grown there too: “Living sustainably means cooking seasonally and consuming what we cultivate, including olives and olive oil, fruits and vegetables, herbs, eggs, and honey. We strive to be self-sufficient and to conserve our resources. Composting, for example, is vital to our ecosystem. Each year, we produce 120 cubic yards of compost, turning kitchen and yard waste into a soil amendment rich in essential nutrients.”

That an organic winery and farm would integrate clean, renewable and energy storage is not too surprising. On the farm’s site there is a page about its vision, “Stone Edge Farm is a work constantly in progress, as we apply new technologies to conserve resources. The farm is divided into watering zones that receive information from a weather station on the property. A smart phone remotely controls 150 irrigation valves and 25,000 emitters. With careful metering and monitoring, we have reduced our water usage by one-half.”

A sustainable mindset is not about remaining on fossil fuels or having to rely entirely on a grid that includes electricity generated by them. Self-sufficiency is also part of it and this can be an advantage when electricity costs are fluctuating.

Image Credit: Stone Edge Farm

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  • thinkmorebelieveless

    Their website claims they also use a fuel cell and are planning a microturbine. Energy source diversity seems to be their (good) plan

    • vensonata .

      With a microturbine they could disconnect from the grid. I wonder what their plan is?

      • thinkmorebelieveless

        Yes, 5 kW of hydro can produce more energy than their 32 kW of solar and if they had done the hydro first they may have needed a much smaller battery or no battery at all. I hope that all the expensive regulatory crap that hydro has to go through doesn’t discourage them from installing their hydro.

        • vensonata .

          Hydro? or gas microturbine? I must check their website. The problem with hydro at that location in California is it is precariously seasonal and with the drought may not produce at all sometimes.

          • thinkmorebelieveless

            The article says they have irrigation, I could see using it for hydro. Or maybe it is a wind microturbine

          • vensonata .

            There are these super efficient natural gas micro turbines made in California, that is probably what they mean.

          • thinkmorebelieveless

            but the use of fossil fuel natural gas would not appear to be inline with their sustainable mindset and I did not see any mention of a biodigester to supply gas.

          • vensonata .

            Hmmm, well we shall have to take a tour then!

  • vensonata .

    The battery bank is 350kwh total. That is large. About 11 kwh of storage per kw of PV. These Aquion batteries are ideal for PV since they tolerate partial charging, lead acid are poor at that. They also can be 100% discharged without damage. At the moment they are about $500 kwh which is a bit pricey, though not extreme. The company says they will fall to $250 kwh soon (whatever soon means) and once they get their factory up and running the aim is $160 kwh. Now you’re talking! That comes in at about 8cents kwh. (Formula for determining price: 3000x .85 x .85 = 2167 actual kwh lifetime. $160 divided by 2167= 7.4cents kwh. round up to 8 for various small additions. For the price at present multiply by 3 = 24cents kwh.)

    3000 cycles to 100%, 85% efficient, end of life 70% remaining (average 85%)

    • vensonata .

      I should add that with ITC, which it is likely they qualify for, the price is $330 kwh or about 16 cents kwh. They might have scored on SGIP as well (a California subsidy of 50% on energy storage) which would bring it to perhaps the fabled $160kwh or 8cents kwh.

  • TheWordistheWord

    Wineries have existed for 10 thousand years, you don’t exactly need power to ferment grapes. So it would be more commendable if they made wine as they would a couple hundred years ago, without any energy at all and with purity.

    • dcard88

      Its a good idea, but don’t see how its realistic.

      • TatuSaloranta

        I also don’t see how it’s even a good idea to be honest. It’s like climbing to Mt Everest without extra oxygen, or your left hand tied behind your back. Possible, yes, but… why?

        Also note that wine fermentation itself is but a small part of the whole operation. This should be pretty obvious, but somehow facts don’t seem to get in a way of another opportunity to rant.

        • TatuSaloranta

          And on ‘small part’, specifically, article said:

          “The solar PV array provides electricity to the primary residence, workshops, and offices. The renewable electricity system is generating so much power that some can be sold back to the local utility.”

          so I am not even sure why fermentation came up.

    • Marion Meads

      and the trouble with wines more than a couple hundred years ago, they’re very bad quality, so they are consumed very young, while still sweet. Making a an aged, more than a year old, dry wine during the ancient days is a myth, it becomes vinegar, and of course, in today’s market, drinking vinegar is becoming a trend.

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