Solar farms are the latest trend in clean energy and Yadkin County is home to several, with more on the way.
Area residents and community leaders participated in an event on Monday hosted by independent power producer O2 emc. Those in attendance got a tour of the Yadkinville Solar Farm, located at 2323 Old U.S. Hwy. 421, and enjoyed a luncheon where the newest O2 project was announced.
Joel Olsen, CEO of O2 emc, lead the tour and thanked those at the event for coming out to learn more about the industry and their company.
The solar farm in Yadkinville not only produces clean energy from the solar panels on the property, it serves as an agricultural farm as well.
“We built Yadkinville Solar to be a real working farm,” Olsen said. “We designed it to be used as a sheep farm.”
About 20 acres of the farm is fenced and provides land for sheep from Sunray Farm to graze. Not only does this help the solar farm keep the grass in check and eliminate the need for frequent mowing, it provides an opportunity for local farmer Mark Hollar to have additional pasture land for his sheep.
Olsen said all of their company’s 17 solar farms in North Carolina serve both the energy industry as well as the agriculture industry.
“We see these as a tremendously good agricultural opportunity in addition to a clean energy opportunity,” Olsen said.
The solar farm has also been used for educational purposes as well.
“We hope it will be used as a tool for Yadkin County and Yadkinville,” Olsen said. “We’ve done this in Surry County and Mount Airy City Schools have used our solar farms extensively for tours, to bring the science teachers and teach them something new. It’s been a great asset.”
The Yadkinville Solar Farm generates almost 7 million kilowatt hours of power on an annual basis, Olsen said.
“That’s enough power to satisfy all the needs of about 600 homes a year,” he added.
02 sells the power to Duke Energy and homes along the distribution lines coming from the solar farm in Yadkinville are already being powered by solar energy. Even on dark and rainy days, the solar farm still produces about 15 to 20 percent of what it would on a sunny day, Olsen said.
Following the tour, attendees gathered at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center for a luncheon and presentation. Olsen shared additional details about how the farm was built. He also shared a special announcement that the company is working on a new project in Yadkin County, a solar farm behind Parkdale Mills in Boonville.
The new farm will be on a 25-acre property and is expected to produce 9,500 megawatt hours per year, the power equivalent to run 860 homes. Still in the design phase, O2 is awaiting completion of an interconnection study from Duke Energy so they would be able to connect the solar plant to the grid.
“We expect that to be done so we can start in the first quarter of next year,” Olsen said.
“We’d like to do more in Yadkin County. We want to stay here and we want to continue to do more in Yadkin County. It’s a beautiful, beautiful county,” he added.
For more information on O2 emc, visit www.o2emc.com.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.