Semitropic 1 MW Solar Array Starts Pumping

It was a winter’s worth of hard work, and now the Semitropic Water Storage District in the San Joaquin Valley of California has a 1,920 panel solar array that is as large as four football fields. Shell Solar and the district recently dedicated the 980-kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array at the water district’s treatment and storage facility in Wasco, California.

Semitropic Water Storage District is an agricultural water district located in Kern County. The district delivers water to nearly 300 customers for the irrigation and supplies energy to a variety of users. The district operates a 1.65 million acre-foot groundwater storage program that requires pumping of water going into storage as well as withdrawal of water to provide drought year supply for State-wide urban water users. This project will not only generate electricity to run the district’s distribution system and water pumps, the solar energy could also potentially be used to power their hydrogen generator to produce fuel for their fleet of vehicles. Shell Solar Industries constructed and installed the US $6 million array using its panelization process whereby multiple modules are factory assembled into large panels at its Camarillo manufacturing facility. Each of the 1,920 solar panels is rated for 510 watts, and the array uses four of Xantrex’s PV225 inverters to bring the power to Semitropic’s water distribution system. A new single-axis tracking system was designed specifically for the project so Semitropic will get the maximum energy production from the panels. Nearly half of the system cost was covered by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) under the utility’s Self-Generation Incentive Program. In addition, the solar project is on track to receive a $2 million rebate from PG&E, which is the single largest solar rebate check handed out by the utility to date. Over the expected 25-year lifespan of the system, the predicted energy savings for the district should be nearly $3.3 million. Annually the system is projected to deliver 1.7 million kWh of electricity, which is the equivalent of 10,000 acre feet of water shipped to customers.

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