Microgrid is currently wrapping up the installation of solar arrays on twelve Whole Foods Markets across the country. The first projects were installed in Massachusetts and Texas at the end of 2016, and the last projects are being installed in California this summer. The portfolio totals more than 1.6 MW, with sites ranging from 27 kW at the smallest to 883 kW at the largest. The twelve projects represent the first phase in a larger portfolio that includes over sixty sites.
Each store has its own Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), allowing Whole Foods to save money on their utility bills and hedge against future utility rate hikes. Operation and maintenance is included in their agreements, making it a hassle-free endeavor for Whole Foods.
“As it is with many rooftop solar arrays, we were constrained in space,” said Charles Tompkins, Director of EPC Accounts at Microgrid. “In order to achieve high density in a small area, most of the projects utilize a wave racking design. Traditional wave racking alternates east and west facing. The design selected for this project is 10° tilted to the south and 5° tilted towards the north.” This innovative approach allows for higher production from the south facing panels, as well as higher density from the alternating rows.
Enphase micro inverters were selected so that installers could easily make adjustments to the layout in the field, and satisfy rapid shutdown requirements in various municipalities. “Having a flexible product was important to help us deal with the challenges of a portfolio like this,” said Joe Sarlo, Senior Project Manager at Microgrid. “The micro inverters were also a better fit for the wave racking design, eliminating the task of matching inverter strings to module orientation.”
With more projects likely on the horizon, this first phase of solar installations is a great step in greening Whole Foods’ operations. The last projects of this phase will be operational in the coming weeks, feeding thousands of kilowatt hours into the stores everyday.
Image: Aerial shot of the 106 kW solar installation at the Whole Foods Market in Brea, CA.