Birdsong Peanuts makes more than peanuts from the sun

This post was originally published in 2014. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

For Birdsong Peanuts and peanut farmers near Colquit, Georgia, the sun feeds more than just the nearby peanut crops, it powers the office lights, the cleaning, shelling and sorting machines, the blanchers and even the sizing shakers. It turns out that in southwestern Georgia, there isn’t much the sun can’t do.

All the right reasons

For Birdsong, an increasing number of customers developed sustainability policies for their operations and supply chains. Birdsong’s management soon realized that switching as much of their power demands as possible to renewable sources would give them competitive advantage and help reduce operating their expenses.

As an agriculture business, reducing their overall environmental impact and helping increase local air quality by incorporating renewable energy made complete sense.

The icing on the cake – or better yet, the oil on top of the peanut butter – came when Georgia Power agreed to buy 100 percent of the power produced at the site for 20 years as part of its Advanced Solar Initiative.

The system

Designed and installed by Hannah Solar, the one megawatt system features 3,360 ReneSola 300W modules and 45 Sunny Tripower 24000TL-US inverters. The ground mounted design occupies a 20 acre site, previously used for storing discarded peanut shells and skins, that was solar-ready with perimeter fencing and a nearby transformer for three-phase power.

“Using a decentralized design was optimal for this site,” said George Kelly, Hannah Solar vice president. “Downtime during harvest season is not an option for our customer; the Sunny Tripowers offer maximum reliability and efficiency with the peace of mind that if an inverter ever went down, the entire system won’t also go down. In the event of an issue, getting back to full operation would be quick and easy.”

Birdsong began its operations in 1911 and though peanuts haven’t changed much since then, the technology used for processing has advanced by leaps and bounds. Harvesting power from the sun is just another step in incorporating 21st century technology into generations of successful farming.

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