Solar Energy Provides Over 60% of Winery’s Electricity While Preserving Arable Land

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City: Corvallis
State: OR
System Size: 14.7 kW DC

Tyee Wine Cellars is a vineyard and winery located in the heart of the Willamette Valley near Corvallis, Oregon. It is part of the Buchanan Family Century Farm, where the family has worked the same land for five generations growing crops like wine grapes, hazelnuts, grains and hay. Sustainability has been a way of life long before its current popularity. Out of an ingrained desire to preserve resources for future generations, the family investigated solar energy. They were pleased to discover that the Willamette Valley climate could provide plenty of solar resource to help power the heating and air conditioning needed to store the wine within an optimal temperature range as well as heating the wine to facilitate fermentation in the Fall.

Land is the most valuable asset on a farm. The challenge for SunWize was to place the system so that it did not decrease the amount of usable land. To complicate matters, the rooftops at the winery did not have a suitable orientation for a solar installation.

A ground mounted system was designed to fit over an old well site that was not suitable for farming. Its footprint was compressed by having six rows of modules and a taller mounting framework. SunWize structurally engineered a special foundation and bracing to handle the additional wind loads on the higher than typical structure. The 14.7 kW system consists of 84 Sharp 175 monocrystalline modules coupled with two Fronius 7.5 kW inverters. Each inverter consists of three strings of 14 modules mounted on a ProSolar racking system.

Initially, the Buchanan’s system produced about 60% of their facility’s electricity needs. With energy efficiency projects such as adding insulation and sealing for air infiltration, the SunWize solar system currently provides about 70% or more of the winery’s total usage. Additional energy improvements such as conversion to the latest generation of fluorescent lights promise to increase that amount to the 80% to 90% range. While the Buchanan Family is saving money and planning to take advantage of the PR value of going solar, they’ve accomplished their most important objectives: living their value of sustainability and making a contribution to future generations.