World’s Largest Solar Powered Water Pumping Array

Mitsubishi Electric and Perpetual Power (P2) recently announced the completion of four solar-powered deep water wells in California. 
The 6,400 ground-mounted Mitsubishi solar panels will generate up to 1 megawatt of electricity for the Limoneira Company, which grows and processes fruits, nuts and berries on its orchards in Santa Paula, California. The solar panel arrays are expected to produce 2,300,000 kWh of electricity annually – equivalent to consumption of 230 average US households. The four 250 kilowatt arrays include solar tracking systems that should increase power output of each array by 15% by following the sun throughout the day, ensuring maximum exposure for the panels.
The solar bore water pumping system will replace fossil fueled-powered water pump and complements Limoneira’s existing 1 megawatt solar orchard installed in October 2008, supplying the company with a total of 2 megawatts of solar power.
In an increasingly common arrangement, the solar system is not owned by Limoneira Company, but by a third-party that financed the system and sells the power back to the company USD $0.08/kWh, well under California’s average retail electric rate of $0.12/kWh. Aside from greenhouse gas reduction, the solar farm is expected to save the company $200,000 annually.
While it is common practice to spray the ground under a solar array to control weeds, the company is planting native vegetation as a cover crop to keep dust down, which will help the solar panels perform at their best. The vegetation will also act as fodder for miniature sheep.
The Limoneira Company is one of California’s oldest agribusinesses and recently won the inaugural Ventura County Board of Supervisors Climate Change Action Award for its leadership in the use of clean, renewable energy sources.