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Solar-Powered EV Chargers Supporting California Vineyard

By: Darrell Proctor


Companies in the agriculture sector are increasingly relying on distributed power generation to support their operations, particularly those wanting to use make their energy use cleaner and their supply of electricity more reliable.

A vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley in California provides an example of an agricultural property benefiting from off-grid energy. The Kaerskov Vineyard in Solvang, managed by Santa Barbara-based Carr Winery, is utilizing solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) chargers to reduce its energy costs and cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Paired Power, a Campbell, California-based provider of solar-powered EV charging equipment, and Monarch Tractor, maker of the MK-V—a fully electric tractor—on September 5 announced a partnership to supply Kaerskov Vineyard with renewable, off-grid energy for its farming operations. Monarch’s electric, driver-optional tractor has been in use at the vineyard since July, using Paired Power’s solar energy EV chargers.

Support for Agriculture

“We are excited to help the agricultural sector grow into an era of enhanced sustainability and autonomy,” Tom McCalmont, co-founder and CEO of Paired Power, told POWER. “Our partnership with Monarch helps us create a transformative solution that not only elevates the operational efficiency of farms like Kaerskov Vineyard but also charts a course toward a greener, more environmentally conscious agricultural future.”

The companies in Tuesday’s announcement said the use of the autonomous electric tractor will reduce the vineyard’s annual CO2e emissions by more than 54 metric tons versus the use of diesel-powered vehicles. The groups also said that Paired Power’s charging stations will charge a swappable battery cart during the day, providing the tractor with a full recharge for night-time operation.

“Our mission at Monarch is to elevate overall operations, improve farmer profitability, and pave the way for sustainable farming,” said Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractor, headquartered in Livermore, California. “Pairing the all-electric MK-V with renewable charging infrastructure like Paired Power’s solar solutions brings us closer to a farming future that is powered by clean energy solutions. We are pleased to partner with Paired Power and Carr Winery in taking this step toward more environmentally friendly farming practices.”

Direct Current Fast Charger

Officials on Tuesday said the vineyard is the first project to use an off-grid, solar-powered direct current fast charger, or DCFC, to charge a swappable Monarch MK-V tractor battery for fleet operations. They said it helps solve the problem of supplying reliable power to agricultural operations, which are usually in rural areas at the end of power grid distribution lines.

The use of EVs and electric tractors has been touted as a way for farms to reduce their GHG emissions, but having a consistent power supply to charge those vehicles has been a challenge. The use of solar power—in this case Paired Power’s solar canopies—is seen as one solution, and more cost-effective than upgrading power lines or using other technologies that may encounter a lengthy permitting process.

The installation of Paired Power’s chargers at Kaerskov Vineyard was made possible by Santa Barbara County’s Air Pollution Control District’s Clean Air Grant and CalCom Energy, which specializes in solar energy solutions for agricultural properties.

“Carr Winery and Kaerskov Vineyard are committed to sustainable farming practices, and we are eager to utilize electric tractors powered by renewable energy on our properties to reduce emissions and avoid impact to the grid,” said Ryan Carr, a winemaker and the operational partner of Kaerskov Vineyard. “By partnering with Paired Power and Monarch Tractor, we are taking significant steps towards reducing our environmental impact.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Monarch Tractor and Carr Winery to provide a path forward for sustainable farming practices,” said McCalmont. “Our high-powered solar charger was designed with fleet applications in mind, as we know that providing a convenient means to charge electric tractors will be essential in the adoption of electrified farming. Our charging solutions are scalable to ensure that we can continue to provide easy renewable charging as electric fleets expand.”

Source: Power Magazine