Solar structure to dramatically reduce utility costs and reduce energy impact with latest technology
To find the best way to expand parking while also minimizing the environmental impacts, BriarPatch has teamed up with California Solar Electric Company of Grass Valley to integrate renewable energy into our parking lot expansion project. The new overhead structure will house 680 high-performance solar panels, making it the largest photovoltaic solar project constructed over a parking lot in Nevada County.
Locally owned and operated, California Solar shares BriarPatch’s vision of a community focus on environmentally sensitive design. Since its founding in 2000, Cal Solar has installed more than 850 solar electric systems that generate over 5 megawatts of solar electricity. This includes the design and installation of some of California’s first grid-tied solar electric systems and some of the most unique commercial systems in the country.
“We consider ourselves an environmental company first and an energy company second,” notes Lars Ortegren, California Solar owner. “We are excited to partner with BriarPatch in realizing a significant investment in renewable energy while also improving a core part of our community — our local food co-op.”
Due to the continuous operation of refrigeration systems, food stores consume lots of energy. The solar system will allow BriarPatch to significantly reduce its energy impact while dramatically reducing its utility costs. The system will reduce the Co-op’s annual electric bill by $75,000, saving members $3 million over the guaranteed 25-year life of the panels. A 30 percent federal tax credit will defray the overall initial cost.
BriarPatch’s new solar system will utilize industry-leading technology. The SunPower E20 solar panels offer high efficiency with a minimal footprint, producing 70 percent more electricity than conventional panels. Each panel has 128 cells and produces 435 watts. This comes out to an array wattage rating of 295,800 watts (DC). In terms of carbon (CO2), the new system will generate enough power to equal the CO2 offset of 61,926 trees over the 25-year lifespan of the system or the equivalent of CO2 emissions from 800 barrels of oil consumed.
The new solar array will also allow for future renewable energy expansions, starting with the addition of electric vehicle charging stations. These stations will make the choice of an electric vehicle a bit more attractive by making it possible to conveniently charge it at our local food market.
This project is a great example of how renewable energy can keep our community strong by providing local businesses with multi-use design solutions that maximize long-term profit while reducing environmental impacts.
Web cam view
A great view of the parking lot construction is posted seven days a week, 24 hours a day on our website by a live camera feed.