California Dairy Farm Goes Solar

Lizzy SchultzAg Group, Agribusiness, Dairy, dairy farming, energy, environment

peter-gallo Joseph Gallo Farms has unveiled a new 2 megawatt (MW) solar array to supply renewable energy on-site for the family’s dairy farm. The system is the largest privately owned solar system ever installed on a California dairy.

“Sustainable farming has been a core value in our family starting with my grandfather, Joseph Gallo,” said third-generation dairy farmer and cheesemaker Peter Gallo. “We’ve envisioned integrating solar energy on the farm for as long as I can remember, and today is a step towards greater sustainability.”

The fixed-array system harvests the sun’s power on 7,840 solar panels on 8 acres, providing on-site renewable energy that will significantly reduce its need for electricity from the local utility. The system will also help the operation avoid an estimated 27,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions over the next 20 years, a greenhouse gas reduction equal to planting more than 706,000 trees in the next 20 years or removing more than 292 cars from the road annually. The amount of power produced could power 282 average homes a year.

The solar array’s deployment helps carry out Governor Brown’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals and initiatives, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. and increase renewable energy generation to 50 percent by 2030.

Joseph Gallo Farms has been a pioneer in sustainable farming practices in California and also operates one of the largest and longest-running methane digesters in California. The manure digester captures biogas from cow manure, using the biogas to fuel generators to produce energy. The renewable “cow power” creates electricity that is used on-site and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the farm’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“Our new solar array meets about half of our energy needs for our dairy and farming operations,” Gallo said. “Partnered with our existing methane digester, we’re moving closer to becoming a net-zero energy dairy farm and cheese plant, continuing a long tradition of pioneering renewable energy deployment and sustainability practices.”