Solar array near Hope offsets electricity at Arkansas Ag Experiment Station

By JOHN LOVETT | University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station has gone solar.

A 25-year solar service agreement with Entegrity Partners will provide renewable energy for over 80 percent of the annual electricity consumption at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville. The experiment station is the research arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“A lot of what we do at the experiment station has an eye on the future of agricultural issues to feed more people with fewer resources,” said Jean-François Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and senior associate vice president for agriculture-research for the University of Arkansas System. “The solar array aligns with our goals, allowing the experiment station to operate more efficiently and take advantage of this renewable resource.”

The experiment station stands to save tens of thousands of dollars annually on electricity costs, according to Entegrity Partners. The 3.6-megawatt solar array constructed near Hope began supplying energy to the grid on May 11.

Per the agreement, Entegrity Partners designed, built, and maintains the solar array for the experiment station and sells the electricity it produces at a competitive rate.

Estimated energy production for the first year is over 6,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, which is enough energy to power approximately 560 U.S. homes for one year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

How it works

Solar panels
A mix of 415-watt and 440-watt First Solar Series 6 solar panel modules in an array near Hope now offsets over 80 percent of the electricity demands at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville. | Photo courtesy Entegrity Partners

While the energy produced by the solar array near Hope is not fed directly to the Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center, the solar energy is converted from direct current to alternating current and measured before it hits the grid. The utility uses this power where needed on the grid, and the experiment station will receive an offset on its power bill equal to the amount of energy the array produced, Entegrity Partners explained.

The solar array includes 8,496 First Solar Series 6 modules that produce a mix of 415 watts and 440 watts each to produce 3,692 kilowatts of electricity. The 415-watt modules were manufactured in the United States, and the 440-watt modules were manufactured in Vietnam. The solar array occupies 17.5 acres.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

About Entegrity Partners

Founded in 2007 as a building sustainability consulting firm, Entegrity later joined forces with Nahbolz, a construction and facility maintenance company with more than 70 years of experience. Entegrity Partners combines consulting experience with construction expertise, allowing its clients to engage just one company to implement turnkey energy projects. Entegrity Partners has expanded to employ over 100 professionals located across seven states: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, and Kansas.

The company’s comprehensive service line includes energy efficiency improvements, solar energy, energy storage, lighting solutions, water conservation, commissioning, energy modeling, energy assessments, building testing, sustainability consulting, and innovative financial measures.

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