Lighthouse Electrical completed Massachusetts largest agricultural solar installation, a 220kW PV design-build project at Carlson Orchards in Harvard, MA in August 2010. The ground-mount solar array, comprised of 1,060 solar panels, which cover approximately two acres of the orchard, are tied in to two solar inverters. The PV system generates approximately 70% of the annual energy usage of the orchard, largely for refrigeration units used to chill and preserve harvested apples. Carlson Orchards, New England’s largest apple cider, saves an estimated $40,000 annually through the renewable energy installation.
Unique Project Challenge: The solar array is situated on contoured terrain, necessitating the design of a racking system with variable length legs to yield a level installation, maximizing each solar panel’s electrical potential. In addition, it was important to preserve the contour of the land so as to not disrupt the natural setting of the orchard. Lighthouse took great care in designing the array into smaller sub-arrays that fit into the orchard’s existing topography. Three-dimensional terrain maps and a model of the array were utilized in the system design.