KJ plans big solar cogen expansion

Six months after turning on what's arguably the largest rooftop solar electricity and hot-water cogeneration system in the U.S., Jackson Family Wines is finalizing plans to go even bigger in the next few months with installations in Sonoma and Monterey counties.

[caption id="attachment_63926" align="alignright" width="411"] Smaller versions of this 241-kilowatt solar electricity and hot-water array at Jackson Family Wines' north Santa Rosa facility are planned at two other company wineries. (photo credit: Jackson Family Wines)[/caption]

The Santa Rosa-based company plans to have combined-heat-and-power systems installed at the Vinwood Cellars production winery in Alexander Valley and at a winery in Monterey County around the beginning of 2013, according to Robert Boller, vice president of sustainability.

"If all goes well, we'll be the largest user of solar cogen in any industry in the U.S.," Mr. Boller said.

The company also has called together engineers and experts in heating and cooling systems to devise another cogen system that will generate electricity via natural gas-powered microturbines then recapture combustion heat to preheat cleaning water and recapture heat from the water to keep wine in barrel cellars warm enough to sustain fermentation on cold winter days.

That project is aimed for installation nine or more months after the new photovoltaic-thermal systems. Natural gas could eventually come from the Sonoma County Water Agency's Farm to Fuel biodigester-biogas power plant project planned for across the street from the Kittyhawk facility, Mr. Boller noted.

In April, Mountain View-based Cogenra Solar installed 96 of its photovoltaic-thermal panels on 9,000 square feet of a roof at Jackson's Kittyhawk blending and bottling facility near Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport north of Santa Rosa. The Kittyhawk array is rated at 241 kilowatts of electricity production and can preheat 1.4 million gallons of water annually, enough  to wash seven 15,000-gallon and one 100,000-gallon wine tank daily.

Each panel of the array has mirrors that focus sunlight onto photovoltaic cells that produce electricity. A tracking system keeps the panels pointed at the sun throughout the day. Photovoltaic cells typically are around 15 percent efficient in converting solar energy received to electricity, with much of the energy lost to heating the cells themselves.

To boost efficiency in energy conversion as high as 75 percent, the Cogenra panels channel water at 60 to 65 degrees through the assembly that holds the photovoltaic cells. The water cools the cells to boost their efficiency, and heat from the cells is transferred to the water, increasing its temperature to 160 to 165 degrees.

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