Winery to be Solar Powered

Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics USA's Photovoltaic Division will provide high-efficiency solar panels for one of the world’s largest solar projects at a winery. The 1.2 megawatt solar system installation at Constellation Wines US' Gonzales Winery in Monterey County, Calif., will cover approximately 170,000 square feet of the main winery warehouse roof, and will provide about 60 percent of the winery’s total energy requirements.

The installation will include 6,358 Mitsubishi Electric 185W solar panels, and can generate 1,176,230 watts of DC power and deliver 1,000,040 watts of AC power to the grid. The reduced greenhouse gas emissions will be equal to taking 2,000 cars off the road each year, and the system’s reduced carbon footprint will equal planting 2,500 acres of trees.

“Many wineries and agricultural enterprises have already turned to solar as a primary source of energy, and even more are considering it,” said Gina Heng, director of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA’s Photovoltaic Division. “Besides the obvious cost savings, they realize that by reducing the pollution near their farms and facilities, their products will be even better.”

The annual estimate annual offsets, or pollution avoided, by the solar installation include 1.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide; 1,636 pounds of sulfur dioxide; and 2,909 pounds of nitrogen oxides.

“With our historical reliance on agriculture, Constellation Wines U.S. has made a commitment to protect the environment in communities where we have a significant presence,” said José Fernandez, CEO, Constellation Wines North America. “This installation is one of the most significant environmental projects undertaken to date by the wine industry. Using renewable, alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources illustrates our dedication to sustainable wine production from the vineyards throughout the entire winemaking process.”

The project, which is being financed and built by Pacific Power Management and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, will add value even during the winery’s off-season.

“During the summer months, when the winery is not processing grapes, the system will export enough electricity onto PG&E's power lines to supply all of the electrical needs for about 25 percent of the roughly 1,695 households in Gonzales,” said Kelly McMahon, director of sales for Pacific Power Management.

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