New solar farm will give power to 750 homes
On your scenic drives through the winding lanes in Chatham Park, you won’t see it past the forest. But beyond the edges of Moncure Pittsboro Road, sits Tinker Farm, the first of Chatham Park’s solar farms (and second in Chatham County)
The 44.89-acre farm, completed in late 2018 by Strata Solar, already supplies energy to about 750 homes. This means more energy efficiency and cost savings for Chatham residents.
When the sun is at its brightest and its heat barreling down, Tinker Farm can generate 5-megawatts of power. That energy is then sent straight to Duke Energy’s power grid – meaning less electricity is needed from non-renewable sources.
Natural Vegetation Adds Function & Beauty
Not only does Tinker Farm house the solar panels, it functions as an ecological resource to the community as well. Across 12 acres of land, Strata Solar has planted native grasses and wildflowers – including Plains Coreopsis, annual Red Phlox, Indian Blanket, Black-Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Purple Coneflower, Red Standing Cypress, Blazing Star, Wild Lupine, Scarlet Sage, and Spiderwort. Together, these plants provide the following environmentally-friendly benefits:
- Help pollinators such as birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects find a habitat and food source, thereby increasing pollinator populations
- Require less irrigation, fertilization, and pesticides, since they are more acclimated to native climates, soils, and pests
- Deeper roots systems and are more efficient at aiding in rainwater infiltration and pollutant removal than turf grasses
- Support local ecologies in areas of development by providing a ‘bridge’ to nearby remaining wildlands
Did you know?
- North Carolina has the second largest installed solar base in the US, behind California!
- Yet, only 0.19% of cropland (9,000 acres) in North Carolina has been repurposed from agriculture to utility-scale solar installations. (Source)
- Strata Solar carefully took three years to build the 44.89-acre farm. It opened in late 2018.
- Tinker Farm generates 5-megawatts of energy to Duke Power’s electrical grid.
- Tinker Farm is the second solar farm in Chatham County.
- The energy the sun provides to the Earth for one hour could meet the global energy needs for one year! However, we are able to harness only 0.001 percent of that energy. (Source)
- Tinker Farm’s solar panels do not mix water or vaporize into the air, so no harmful substances are released into the environment.
- The panels at Tinker Farm are made to endure all weather conditions and all of the electrical equipment on-site is sealed to ensure public safety.
- According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “solar electricity generation represents a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels, with no air and water pollution, no global warming pollution, no risks of electricity price spikes, and no threats to our public health.
Samuel Judd, Development Manager at Strata Solar, adds that Chatham Park “has made a commitment to environmental, economic, and social sustainability, and Strata is thrilled to be able to bring our experience to help realize this commitment.”
Tinker Farm is the latest illustration of what sets Chatham Park apart from other communities. In addition to solar farms, new smart homes will be 30% more energy efficient than other homes in the area.
To learn more about solar farms, check out this list of suggested reading and resources:
- “Here Comes the Sun”, Chatham Magazine, March 2019, pgs 24-25
- Strata Solar: Chapel Hill-based developers and builders of the Tinker Farm project
- North Carolina Sustainable Energy Foundation
- North Carolina from the Center of Energy Education
- Solar Energy, National Geographic
- Solar Energy, Department of Energy
- The Solar Foundation
A real-time view of the installed solar renewable systems in Chatham County