Pacific Gateway Center Awarded $181,000 for Solar Project

Posted on Sep 10, 2013 in Main

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)  just announced that the Pacific Gateway Center in Honolulu has been awarded $180,922 for a project entitled “Sustainable Solar for Beginning Farmers with Limited Resources.”

Pacific Gateway, in collaboration with Solar Wave, will design and build an affordable solar-powered refrigeration container system.

This project utilizes technology created by NASA that has been successfully applied especially in the military context but SSBF has re-engineered the concept using affordable components that has potential applications for agricultural operations. These units are particularly designed with disadvantaged farmers in mind who lack effective refrigeration systems on site because of the exorbitant start-up costs of solar powered energy systems. Solar panel installation on storage containers will provide not only essential lighting for predawn hours access but also sufficient power for a drip irrigation monitoring system.

For smaller farm operations, lacking access to on site refrigeration, sunlight can wilt produce and degrade cardboard boxes used for produce storage. With on-site refrigeration, product competitiveness is enhanced vis-à-vis comparable mainland products and post-harvest crop losses reduced. A demonstration model that consists of a 24’long x 8’ wide x 8’6” tall used, recycled shipping container and a DC cooling system that will be powered by 8-12 solar panels and/or rechargeable battery will be created. Four additional containers will be assembled by the farmers themselves, with assistance, so that they become invested and stakeholders in this process.

Education and training on the technology and understanding of energy conservation by the farmers will be provided, reducing agricultural fossil fuel dependency, enhancing financial viability of beginning farmers with limited resources, and introducing innovative, cost-saving measures.

For more information on the program, go to:  http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig/