Friday, December 9, 2011

Linganore Goes Solar

Over the years, Linganore Winecellars has been one of our favorite places to visit. What more would you want - an enjoyable ride in the country, good local wine, and entertaining music? As Maryland largest winery, Linganore also leads in employing sustainable practices such as recycling tar-tare, cardboard, grape pulp - all practices which helped the winery win the Green Business of the year award by the Baltimore Business Journal. They are a shoe-in next year as they are now the owners of a solar panel and two Electric Vehicle charging stations partially funded by a grant from the USDA Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). Furthermore, the winery received a second REAP grant to study the feasibility of using geothermal, wind, and/or solar systems to reduce electric consumption from the public grid.

I've read that one of the drawbacks of solar panels is the necessity to clean the panel which results in tremendous water usage. Not so with these panels from Earth & Air Technologies, LLC. Regular rainfall will remove any dust and the panels attract sunlight even when the sun is obscured by clouds. On this day, the panels were operated on 25% capacity, even though the sun barely revealed itself. And when it did, the SolarTracker101 elevated and rotated the panels to the most optimal position. In this way, the panels are able to harvest the the most optimal of the sunshine and enables a 45 degree tracking capability. Much more efficient than just planting some panels on a roof.

Adjacent to the panels sits two Electric Vehicle charging stations, in which a quarter of the cost was supported by the REAP grant. Two of the downfalls of Electric Vehicles are the lack of charging stations and the long time required to recharge. Linganore leveraged this to their benefit by utilizing EVs for winery operations and allowing the public to use their recharge stations free of charge. Not entirely conceivable that drivers will stop into the tasting room to sip or purchase, ya think?

The winery has had an interesting 2011, having survived a tornado and tremendous rain. We hope this ribbon cutting ceremony initiates sunny conditions ahead. Paraphrasing Congressman Roscoe Bartlett "I don't like seeing tax dollars going to Washington, but when they do, it's worthwhile to see them return to rural Maryland for a worthwhile energy project". We agree completely. Watch the video below to hear Anthnony Aellen, Linganore's proprietor, discuss the winery and their environmental practices. Cheers.

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