Solar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals that specializes in photovoltaic mounting and solar tracker solutions, says it has supplied its TDP Turnkey Solar Trackers for Jack’s Solar Garden, a 1.2 MW solar farm project and the largest agrivoltaic research project in the U.S.
Located in Boulder County, Colo., the solar installation was designed and built by Namaste Solar, an employee-owned cooperative based in Colorado.
Jack’s sits on five acres of farmland for the dual use of agriculture and solar energy production. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Colorado State University and the University of Arizona, the project will study how best to grow wildflowers, pasture and prairie grasses, pollinator habitats, as well as crops such as carrots, onions, tomatoes and squash that will all be planted this season underneath and around the solar array.
Namaste Solar says it selected Solar FlexRack’s TDP Solar Trackers due to their versatility, as well as their smart backtracking which reduces shading across rows and increases energy production. Solar FlexRack’s TDP Solar Trackers enabled Namaste Solar to overcome the challenge of installing the trackers at several different heights to test the impact of various amounts of shade and sunlight on crop growth, while still maximizing solar energy yield.
“We selected Solar FlexRack’s trackers due to their efficiency, accuracy and versatility, especially given the complex and varied needs of this project,” says Ryan Turnbull, senior commercial project manager at Namaste Solar. “It was clear that Solar FlexRack was committed to ensuring the project’s success through their outstanding support services.”
Leveraging their expertise from prior agrivoltaic projects, Namaste Solar knew it was critical to avoid overly compacting the native soil which could limit the planting of certain species. They overcame this challenge by maintaining strict drive lanes for heavy equipment and not using gravel on-site.
Photo: Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden, riding his family’s tractor through their solar power system, courtesy of Werner Slocum, NREL