Sunday, July 3, 2011

Here Comes the Sun: A photo essay

The first phase of our solar array project: heavy concrete foundation piers ground the galvanized steel support structure. Weight, loading, and wind factors were considered throughout the design-build stage of this project. The array is designed for 48 panels and covering 1200 square feet @ 20' high. Model 702 windmill is in the background (water-pumper); there are 3,000 gallon water (rain) storage tanks nearby.

First phase complete: 6 strings of 8 panels, in place and hot. Solar energy is an important part of 3 Boys Farm energy program; it will run submersible pumps for back-up water when the main power grid is down.

These panels, and the pumps they'll supply power to, are also part of our overall USDA water recovery program. We will be recycling spent nutrients from hydroponics and using them--in addition to rainwater--in the organic outdoor bench section as well as the seasonal high-tunnel test programs. Our combined efforts with SWFWMD and USDA are to further reduce peak ground water withdrawal.

Water conservation's importance obviously cannot be overstated--life requires water.

We must conserve our remaining resources now: they are under pressure as never before.

We want to say a huge Thank You to James Tornello, builder and fabricator extraordinaire as well as uncle of the three boys. He took Robert's drawings and turned them into this impressive solar array. Even to the untrained eye, his months of efforts--from custom fabrication work to the mounting and wiring of the array--are obvious. We will be harvesting first power this week.

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