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Thu Jun 23, 2022, 12:08 PM

Farms in Central Washington boost their yield with solar energy


Farms in Central Washington boost their yield with solar energy

Two greenhouse domes on the Colville Reservation will house the state’s first 'agrivoltaics' project, where food and electricity can grow in tandem on small acreage.

by John Stang / June 22, 2022

Two geodesic domes are being built in Nespelem, 16 miles north of the Grand Coulee Dam and the headquarters of the Colville Indian Reservation. Ricky Gabriel jokes that they look like Thunderdome from the dystopian 1985 movie Mad Max.
Gabriel, an Okanogan County contractor, sees the Nespelem domes as a challenging math puzzle, requiring precisely cut and fit wood braces to create the ball-like structures that will be covered by transparent crystal plastic to become greenhouses.

The domes consist of 20 straight sides that create half-balls that are almost 20 feet tall and 35 feet in diameter. They each make room for roughly 1,000 square feet of crop space to grow a variety of vegetables and flowers, spread out horizontally and stacked on shelves vertically.

These compact growing spaces also leave room for solar energy to grow outside. An adjacent two rows of solar panels will be capable of producing 20 kilowatt-hours a year.

The solar cells will provide electricity to heat and run the watering equipment for the domes. The food and surplus electricity will go directly to nearby homes. And the planning and execution of this so-called agrivoltaic project will be an example to be spread across the grid to planners, farmers and engineers interested in learning more about this new way of using farmland to grow both food and electricity at the same time.

“The community is very excited about it,” said Tauni Bearcub, the project’s manager for Konbit (pronounced “kone-beet”), a Boulder, Colorado, company specializing in food-growing programs with an emphasis on Native American lands. She is also a member of the Colville nation.


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Reply Farms in Central Washington boost their yield with solar energy (Original post)
cbabe Jun 23 OP
Native Jun 23 #1

Response to cbabe (Original post)

Thu Jun 23, 2022, 12:31 PM

1. Super cool. I was surprised at how small the domes look.

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