Earlier this year, a $USD1.15 million ($AUD1.23 million) solar photovoltaic installation with 33 dual-axis solar trackers became fully operational at Stony Point rock quarry, managed by the Soiland family in Cotati, California.
These trackers – manufactured by AllEarth Renewables – use a motor and GPS to track the sun and ensure maximum exposure, producing up to 45 per cent more power than a fixed, roof-mounted solar system of the same size.
While the 202kW system, which was installed by North Coast Solar, was able to produce sufficient electricity to handle demand for the quarry’s typical crushing and screening operations, peak times where demand rose to 700kW resulted in crippling power bills for the business.
With the help of a California Solar Initiative grant, the quarry found a solution to this issue in the form of a 200kW Tesla Motors battery system that is set to arrive at the site next month.
“Our solar array is sufficient for our needs but the battery helps with peak demand,” Soiland president Mark Soiland told North Bay Business Journal. He added that changes to electricity rates in the last two years had been “pretty stressful” as they had been made during a difficult economic time for the local construction industry.
“When this [electricity rate changes] was going on, we were not in good financial shape,” Soiland said. “We were hand to mouth.”
However, the environmentally friendly power solution seems to have given Mark Soiland a more positive outlook on the future. He said that he planned to triple or quadruple the size of the quarry’s solar field over time and potentially feed excess electricity into the Sonoma Clean Power grid – which could ultimately result in additional revenue for the business through the electricity provider’s feed-in tariff.
Source: North Bay Business Journal, Soiland, AllEarth Renewables, North Coast Solar, Sonoma Clean Power