14
Dec
09

North Carolina Has First Solar Winery

Wines & Vines – Wine Industry News Headlines – North Carolina Has First Solar Winery

North Carolina Has First Solar Winery
New technology reduced costs and materials for RayLen’s thin-film panels

by Linda Jones McKee

RayLen winery North Carolina solar

A solar panel installation at North Carolina’s RayLen Vineyards & Vinery cut the site’s energy bills nearly in half; the winery sells some energy to the utility company.

Mocksville, N.C. — RayLen Vineyards & Winery recently threw the switch on what is believed to be the first winery solar installation in the state. Although in recent years dozens of West Coast wineries have taken advantage of state and federal incentives to install solar arrays, to date the practice has been less common in other winegrowing regions.

But electricity costs keep rising — substantially in many locales — and wineries use many, many kilowatts of electricity to run everything from grape stemmers and presses to refrigerated tanks. Tapping solar energy not only can hold down utility bills, but as a source of clean, infinitely renewable energy, it also conveys legitimate green bragging rights to those who employ it.

Options are expanding, as research and product development improves the choices available. This past summer, RayLen installed 104 100-watt solar panels — enough to power everything from pumps to its office lights.

According to Steve Shepard, winemaker and general manager at RayLen, going solar was a win-win proposition. “With the way things are going with the environment, solar power is a good idea. Energy is getting expensive, and there are a number of government programs at both the state and federal level that give tax credits.”

Great to see more of this happening in NC, the west coast wineries have taken a lot of steps towards sustainability

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