Officials with Agriculture Energies LLC say using the sun to keep fresh produce cool can save companies up to 75% on cold storage energy costs when it’s combined with LED lighting and solar sun tracker panels.
Seth Pepper, a principal with Tuscon, Ariz.-based Agriculture Energies, said independent energy sources such as solar power especially make sense for agricultural businesses because they can lower operating costs across the entire operation, from irrigation systems to cold rooms for finished product.
The company, founded in 2007, exclusively serves agricultural clients. Pepper said one of its goals is to help agricultural operations lock in energy costs. In some scenarios, switching to solar can even boost bottom lines because they can sell excess power to local utility companies.
“In the agriculture business community there are many prices you can’t control, like crop prices, but owners can gain control of their operating costs through independent energy,” Senior systems designer Chuck Helmke said.
Among the systems offered by Agriculture Energies is a proprietary sun tracker system, which Helmke said increases solar panel production by more than 50% compared to traditional solar panel systems.
The setup has a non-penetrating roof system that makes it possible for facilities to continue operations during installation. Unique designs also allow the systems to be installed without having to alter existing structures because they distribute the weight differently than traditional solar panel arrays.
Traditional solar power systems use components from various suppliers and often don’t use comprehensive design principles, Pepper said. Helmke said a key feature of the Agriculture Energies solar systems is that all subsystems and components are interconnected. They use global positioning technology and are WiFi capable.
An “intelligent” solar controller monitors, diagnoses and reports system operations and integrated inverters provide better motion control for tracking systems to maximize power output by accurately following the sun.
Pepper said Agriculture Energies works with clients to help them take full advantage of government incentives for alternative energy systems, which further reduces costs for growers, packers and shippers.