World Grain - July 2018 - 62
tle grading of the ground was required,
and there was minimal use of concrete.
"The solar foundation piles that were
driven into the ground required no concrete at all," said Sidles, adding that the
piles are driven 7 to 8 feet deep, providing a sturdy foundation for the solar
While it takes 2 to 5 kilowatts of solar energy per day to power a home, the
system generates 1,018 kilowatts of solar energy per hour, Sidles said.
Miller Milling purchased SunPower's
latest technology, a system called Oa-
sis 3, in which each solar panel is rated
for 435 watts. Sidles explained that a
tracking system, aided by sensors, helps
move the panels throughout the day so
they are always receiving a direct path
of sun rays.
"It uses a DC (direct current) motor
that is powered by the panels and tracks
the sun from east to west during roughly
a 12-hour period," Sidles said.
When the sun sets, the solar panels
return to their stowed, horizontal position parallel to the ground, and then
move to an angle facing east toward
the sun at sunrise, he said.
Sidles described the process as "harvesting the sun's rays or photons and
converting them into electrons, or electrical energy. When the sun hits the
panel, protons are converted to electrons and direct current electricity that
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transformed into AC (alternating current) power."
Total cost of the project was just under $2.5 million dollars, Sidles said.
"For the amount of money we put
into this project, we wanted to make
sure it was secure, so we added security cameras around the perimeter and
also surround it with chain link fences
with barbed wire around the top of it,"
In addition to installing the equipment, SunPower provides data summarizing yearly, monthly, weekly and
daily solar energy production as well as
production trends over different periods
of time. The software includes data kilowatts, which involves the rate of energy
use, and kilowatt hours, which measures
the total amount of energy used.
Sidles used an analogy to explain this
"The kilowatts, in our case, are like
a speedometer while kilowatt hours are
like an odometer," he said.
Sidles said in 2017 the Miller Milling
facility in Fresno used about 12 million
kilowatts of electrical energy. The solar energy system is rated at 2 million
kilowatts per year, which means it is
producing about one-sixth, or approximately 17%, of the plant's energy.
The environmental impact of drawing
17% of the mill's power from the sun
ZDVVLJQL¿FDQWKHVDLG7KHPHJDwatts of solar energy produced at the
mill is the equivalent of:
x 318 passenger vehicles driven for
Above: More than 2,000 solar panels were installed. Below: Miller Milling installed the solar
energy system on a 5-acre lot adjacent to the mill.
July 2018 / World Grain / www.World-Grain.com