Fresh Plaza: US company focuses on solar for agricultureFresh Plaza: financing for agricultural producers internationally to implement renewable energy


Fresh Plaza:
US company focuses on solar for agriculture

by Carlos Nunez

solar power in agricultureThe aptly named Agriculture Solar, a company based in Arizona and specializing in solar energy solutions for the agricultural industry, knows it has a “homerun” on its hands.

“When we show growers the savings they can get by installing solar equipment, it's very obvious that it's the right move,” says Chuck Helmke, CTO for Agriculture Solar.

The company provides solar panels for growers as well as a tracking system that increases efficiency.

“We can achieve a 30%-35% increase in efficiency with tracking and we can do it economically.”

They've been in business since 2007, but boast engineering experience of many, many years.

“We're able to provide an efficient solar solution, but more importantly, we can do it in a cost-effective manner,” says Helmke.

The largest obstacle they currently face is the initial capital investment necessary to implement rooftop solar panels.

Agriculture Solar has unveiled a $200 million USD solar fund that will target their new international investment vehicle to finance, develop, own and operate solar projects in the agriculture sector. Giving their customers an opportunity to enter into long-term lease agreements for any agriculture projects Agriculture Solar accepts. Chuck explains, "this means no upfront capital necessary for the agriculture business, it is cash-flow positive from day one."

“Honestly, it's been a no-brainer when we show growers the savings they can get when they implement solar. Traditional energy costs consistently increase and when we let growers know they wont have to worry about those costs, they are immediately on board. The biggest hurdle for growers has been financing.”

agriculture solar panelsHelmke adds that government tax credits designed to help people turn to solar energy help offset upfront costs, but he notes that they want to get to a point where no government incentives are needed.

“The technology is getting cheaper and we'd like to get it as cost-effectively as possible to growers.”

For more information:
Chuck Helmke
Agriculture Solar
+1 520 204 4223

The Grower Citrus Vegetable 2011 March