Solar panels installed on the Corya System PCF crop production facility in Decatur County, Indiana, are part of a larger system to reduce its carbon footprint. (Photo: Jeremy Lipinski/Emergent Solar Energy)

A newly completed solar microgrid system near Greensburg, Indiana, in Decatur County, is expected to generate enough emissions-free clean energy to offset nearly 4000 tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, the same amount produced from driving 5 million miles.

Emergent Solar Energy, located in the Purdue University Research Park, created the system for the Corya System Precision Crop Farming (PCF) crop production facility. It consists of a 65-kilowatt, bifacial ground-mount solar array plus 30 kilowatts of energy storage with a natural gas and propane backup generator. It also includes charging stations for electric vehicles that will replace the farm's gas-powered vehicles over time and further use clean energy production for their operation.

Since the microgrid is connected to the Rural Electric Membership Corp. (REMC) utility grid, it optimizes the farm's energy use of the lowest-cost source of energy at any moment, thereby reducing the energy costs and fixing an increasing input.

“From an economic perspective, the project offsets traditional grid usage and insulates the operation from rising energy prices, creating a significant and growing cost of production advantage, while enabling additional future cost savings from electric vehicle fleet conversion," Corya said.

The application of on-farm solar plus energy storage makes sense when renewable energy can be dispatched to offset the highest-cost demand and charge the battery bank at the lowest cost, while reducing negative impact on the environment.