September 5, 2023

Concept Clean Energy: Shining a Light on Solar Energy Solutions for Growers

Efficient and accessible change happens on a gradient. When it comes to green energy, much of the gradual slope needed to scale the legislative wall ahead is up to the agricultural industry to construct. Concept Clean Energy has been working in synchronicity with grower operations to create versatile energy solutions that work in unison with grower challenges to find pointed solutions to overlapping needs.

For Concept Clean Energy, this one goal resulted in the development of two unique, innovative products that address multiple grower issues. PowerShingle® and Solar Tub® both work to provide operations with a way to provide solar energy exactly where it’s needed, but they do it differently.

PowerShingle® promises shade, shelter, storage and power. Its glass solar panels shingle over one another, creating a seamless, waterproof roof that’s engineered to withstand wind and storms.  PowerShingle® manufactures these solar panels right here in the U.S. and the structures are built with pre-engineered, (80% + recycled) American steel from Nucor, the USA’s largest steel company.    By combining the speed and efficiency of pre-engineered metal buildings, with a simple, yet highly effective integrated solar roof, PowerShingle® structures can be designed for virtually any operational need. A project can be as large as being the most energy dense solar project to date─like the 120,000 sq.ft. warehouse built at Bonipak─or it can be as small as a 3,000 sq.ft. cover for a break area for workers or anything in between.

“If we put PowerShingle® canopies at every single cooler,” said CEO Elliot Jaramillo, “we could generate hundreds of megawatts of power right where we need it. We could be powering coolers, powering processing equipment, vacuum tubes, production lines and more…or we could be charging electric trucks that go back and forth to the fields. [It’s a] perfect hub and spoke model.”

Solar Tub® is available to provide precise application of power without having to navigate the grid. Its design allows for it to float on water or sit on the ground, which means growers can order as many as they need to provide power wherever they need it.

With one product that is adaptable and customizable to become power-generating warehouses, equipment charging stations, storage facilities and another that is compact and easy to deploy, the rigid structure of power as it exists can find the bends and joints that it needs to mold to different growers’ specific needs.

In line with moving in a gradient toward a more sustainable future, Jaramillo sees value in a hybrid energy system. “Almost always the hybrid model is the best,” he said. “Electrification offers a lot of benefits. Electric motors provide instant torque. What they don’t have is unlimited range…We need to create essentially all the energy that we can get a hold of.” There’s value in priority within the hybrid system and having access to multiple sources helps move solar to the top of the list.

There are a few lines of value for anyone considering PowerShingle®.  “As of a year ago,” Jaramillo explained, “the tax credits were supposed to have been 26 percent, going down to 22 percent this year, but they went back up to 30 percent, plus 10 percent for American-manufactured products. We get a 40 percent tax credit on these investments.” At a cost breakdown, the bottom line of building a structure like this is at (or less) than the cost of a structure without the solar resource when utilizing the tax credit.

Perhaps the key point of PowerShingle’s value is that it provides the energy of solar panels without taking valuable land out of growing production. “With rising energy costs, rising fuel costs and rising regulation costs, it’s terrible. We have to help our farming partners. We have to help them control their costs and we have to keep as much land in production as we possibly can,” said Jaramillo.

When it comes to having access to sustainable energy, change is coming to growers of all sizes. Concept Clean Energy has solutions that can be implemented now to prepare for those shifts that will meet growers where they are to put power where it needs to go.