Friday, February 20, 2009

California Winery Turns 3 Acres Over to Solar Power

PASO ROBLES, California, February 19, 2009 (ENS) - J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines unveiled the largest solar tracking array in the North American wine industry on Wednesday at its Paso Robles winery.

The ground-mounted installation is made up of 4,320 single-axis solar modules that track the Sun to optimize production of solar power. Covering three acres, the 756 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system is designed to offset 75 percent of the winery's energy usage

"With numerous sunny days, Paso Robles isn't just ideal for producing rich and flavorful Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines," said Steve Lohr, senior vice president of planning and development with J. Lohr. "It is also perfect for producing clean, renewable energy."

"Owning our own solar tracking array is another important step in our commitment to environmentally-conscious practices," said Lohr. "In our own way, we are working to protect the very climate that nurtures our grapes, while contributing to efforts that reduce the need for drilling off our spectacular coast," he said.

The energy generated from J. Lohr's system will reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by 29,887 tons over 25 years, the company estimates.

The new solar array is part of the company's broader program of sustainable winegrowing and winemaking techniques. Lohr uses organic soil amendments, limits its use of chemicals, controls erosion, conserves water, and practices composting and materials recycling.

Allison Jordan, executive director for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, said the company is helping the entire California wine industry to make operations easier on the environment.

"J. Lohr has an impressive track record of environmental responsibility, and by both adopting sustainable practices and being willing to share its experience with others, is helping to expand the California wine industry's widespread sustainability movement," she said.

The tracking solar system was designed and installed by Conergy, which is involved in one in 10 of the world's solar photovoltaic projects.

"With a strong, credible voice among industry professionals and a powerful commitment to environmental stewardship, J. Lohr recognized the importance of setting an example for the wine industry, for other energy-intensive businesses, and the public at large," said Conergy product developer Michael DeSousa.

"By investing in this bellwether system, J. Lohr becomes more energy independent and will enjoy more predictable energy costs for decades to come," he said.

Founded more than 30 years ago by Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines operates 3,000 acres of estate vineyards in Paso Robles, Monterey County, and the Napa Valley.

See the original article here

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