Napa Valley wineries embrace solar energy

News Wine News
  • Tuesday 4 April 2006

A Napa Valley producer has joined the growing ranks of solar-powered Californian wineries with the launch of a solar electric system.

V Sattui Winery has installed a 34kW (kilowatt) system which is expected to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and costs.

Over the 30 year lifespan of the solar panels, a traditional electrical system for the same winery would release around 908,388lbs (412,040kg) of carbon dioxide and 838lbs (380kg) of nitrogen oxide.

Generating approximately 46,250 kWh (kilowatt hours) annually, it is estimated that the solar electric system will provide energy savings of over US$6,000 (£3,400) in the first year.

Californian state legislation encourages businesses and private individuals to embrace solar power by offering generous tax rebates and federal tax credits. Over half the cost of the V Sattui installation was paid for using such schemes, including a state rebate of $2,800 (£1,600) per kW and a 30% federal tax credit.

California’s electrical rates are among the most expensive in the US with commercial costs reaching US$0.16 per kWh. High electrical rates have become one of the more expensive and unpredictable components of running a Californian winery. In stark contrast, solar panels offer rates as low as US$0.09 per kWh.

Environmentally conscious Californian wineries embracing solar power have been growing in number over recent months. Other wineries choosing the solar option include Mount Eden Vineyards, Cooper-Garrod Vineyards, Hagafan Cellars, and Kent Rasmussen Winery. In December, decanter.com reported on the installation of an 18 kWh solar system in Paloma Winery, St. Helena.

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