Solar Power at Craftsbury
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Installed in September of 2010, the 8 tracking solar arrays here at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center have now been on-grid for over a year. All-Sun Trackers, a Vermont-based solar company, installed the panels. They were predicted to produce about 45,120 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, and so far that is proving to be a very accurate prediction. In their first 12-months of production, the panels put out a collective 45,350 kWh. The entire Outdoor Center uses approximately 130,000 kWh of electricity per year, about 35 percent of which is offset by the solar arrays. The daily, monthly, and yearly production of the panels can be tracked live here. The power they produce is put into the grid for distribution; we don't have the batteries, inverters or other infrastructure to use the power directly off the panels.
The panels use GPS to track the path of the sun throughout the day. This means that they are in an optimal position to collect solar energy at any given time. Each panel is equipped with an anemometer to measure wind speed, and as a protective measure they are programmed to face directly upward if the wind is strong enough to cause damage. They also face directly upward during the nighttime. If you catch them right around sunrise, you can see the panels "wake up"-they all turn on and swivel to face the sun.
In 2008, the Center made an ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2012. Although that goal will have to be extended beyond 2012, the solar panels were a large step in that direction.