Mushrooms do not normally need much help from the sun, but nearly 5,000 solar panels have popped up alongside buildings that house white button mushrooms near West Grove, Pennsylvania. Marlboro Mushrooms, the oldest family mushroom farm in the country, has added a 1.13 Megawatt solar array to help offset energy costs. North Carolina-based Southern Energy Management (SEM southern-energy.com ) installed the SunPower solar PV system.
"Keeping mushroom crops in a controlled environment requires a tremendous amount of electricity to maintain optimal growing conditions, and we thought it was a natural step to use solar power to shoulder some of that load," said Marlboro Mushrooms' Tom Brosius. "It is great to harvest the sun's power and take advantage of a renewable resource. We anticipate it will generate 100% of our annual electric needs."
Spread across nearly seven acres, the installation deploys SunPower's T0 tracking system, which uses GPS technology to ensure all 4,953 of the SunPower 228-watt modules are always tracking the sun.
"Our site for installation slopes to the north, so a traditional fixed PV array would have not been feasible due to shading and the greater footprint required," explained Harold Brosius of Marlboro Mushrooms.
"This project helps Marlboro Mushrooms save money on energy costs and moves them in the right direction in terms of long-term sustainability and environmental stewardship," said Blair Kendall, SEM's director of business development. "SEM was happy to help the farm make this happen, and we're looking forward to seeing them reap the benefits for the next 30 years or more."
Construction of the ground-mounted array had a short turnaround time: crews started work on the installation in late August and had the entire system on line by the end of November, a full three weeks ahead of schedule. The Marlboro Mushrooms array is the largest moving solar array in Pennsylvania.
About Marlboro Mushrooms
Marlboro Mushrooms is located in West Marlborough Township, Chester County, Pa., and is owned by two brothers, Tom and Harold Brosius, sixth generation farmers on the same property since 1835. Marlboro Mushrooms is part owner of Country Fresh Mushroom Company, to whom it sells its entire production of 4 million pounds of fresh mushrooms annually. Through Country Fresh mushrooms are shipped throughout the United States, as far away as California, Florida, and Maine. Marlboro Mushrooms is believed to be the only solar powered mushroom farm in the world.
About Southern Energy Management
Southern Energy Management (southern-energy.com) is a North Carolina-based sustainable energy company offering energy efficiency, green building and turn-key solar services for homeowners, builders, companies, government and military clients across the country. A certified B Corp, SEM's mission is to have a measurable impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and to build a sustainable triple-bottom-line company. SEM was founded in a living room in Raleigh in 2001, and now employs a team of more than 100 sustainable energy professionals. SEM is consistently recognized as an industry leader both locally and nationally, and is among a small handful of companies in the U.S. to earn the National Energy Star Partner of the Year award five times (in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011). SEM also received the City of Raleigh 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award and the 2010 Green Jobs Award from SJF Institute & Green For All.