Mexico’s Flourishing Wine Industry Turns to Solar
The Guadalupe Valley of Baja, California, has earned a reputation as the Napa Valley of Mexico. With a favorable Mediterranean microclimate and 1,000-foot elevation, the region produces roughly 90 percent of Mexico’s wine, from more than 100 wineries dotting the Ruta del Vino.
Delivering such volume requires vast amounts of energy, and with the growing effects of climate change many area wineries are turning to solar to help meet the energy challenges of the 21st century, while preserving our natural resources.
"The entire process of wine-making is very energy intensive," notes Héctor Corona, General Manager of Corona del Valle, a vineyard and restaurant located near Ensenada. "For example, watering the vineyard requires a pump to draw water from the reservoir. We also need to power refrigeration systems, fermentation tanks, our restaurant kitchen, air conditioning and lighting."
To source their electricity in an environmentally sustainable way, Héctor decided to go solar. Corona del Valle now features 198 SunPower Performance panels on the roofs of the buildings that house the wine-making and storage operations, as well as the restaurant. The 70-kilowatt system significantly reduces the electricity demands of their entire operation.
The rooftop solar installation at the Corona del Valle Winery provides electricity for winery operations, as well as the onsite restaurant.
A Commitment to Sustainability
Powering the Corona del Valle facilities with solar aligns perfectly with the sustainability vision and eco-tourism ideals that drive the entire operation—from the selection of natural construction materials, to the way the land is managed, to how the vineyards are watered.
The concept for Corona del Valle was to create a place where families could enjoy each other's company in a natural environment. That focus led to some early decisions to use upcycled wood for the restaurant décor, a smart choice for the environment that echoed the winery's countryside location and ranch aesthetic. From there, sustainability became a central consideration for all aspects of their business.
As land management is crucial for vintners and farmers, when Héctor began to consider solar, it was important that his land be reserved for growing grapes. The rooftops of the winery and restaurant operations became the target for generating clean energy. With an energy advantage over conventional panels, SunPower Performance panels provided an ideal solution for maximizing energy production from that confined space.
Hector Corona's sustainability vision has extended to deliver a 60% reduction in water consumption across the Corona del Valle vineyards.
And while solar provides clean energy for pumping reservoir water, water itself is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Héctor recently invented and patented a modified drip irrigation system that concentrates water directly to the roots of the plants, minimizing evaporation. He estimates the vineyard now consumes 60% less water than other vineyards in the area.
Solar that Stands Up to the Elements
It was Héctor's passion for innovation that ultimately drew him to SunPower technology. Upon visiting SunPower's Ensenada manufacturing facility, Héctor was able to gain a first-hand understanding of the quality and reliability that go into each SunPower panel. "It was really interesting to see the entire manufacturing process and how SunPower tests their panels," Héctor says.
While the valley's climate is ideal for grapes, it can wreak havoc on conventional solar panels, which include metal components responsible for the transfer of energy. Daily temperature swings of 25 to 30 degrees Celsius are not uncommon and can fatigue metal cell connections and even lead to panel failure.
The SunPower Performance panels installed at Corona del Valle are ideally suited for the climate of Mexico's Guadalupe Valley.
SunPower Performance panels are engineered with materials innovations such as proprietary encapsulants and aerospace-grade conductive adhesives, which help protect cells and minimize power loss from exposure to harsh environments. From arid deserts to wet and humid rain forests to windy coastlines, SunPower panels are an ideal choice for many tough environments around the world, including Baja.
Already, Corona del Valle's solar installation is on track to save an estimated 60-65 percent on the winery's electricity bill. Customers express appreciation for the sustainable approach to wine-making, and Héctor is planning to build solar on their family-owned hotel in Ensenada, too.
Corona del Valle stands as an example of the ingenuity and innovation modern vintners will require to thrive amid the effects of climate change going forward. To Héctor Corona, it's all in a day's work.
Project: Corona del Valle Winery
Product: 198 SunPower Performance Solar Panels (355 W)
Project Type: Rooftop
System Size: 70kWp
Commissioned: November, 2018