Solar panels added to eye care center, mushroom farm

Never mind the concern about the lowered value of renewable energy credits and the dimming of other programs that were meant to add to the allure of solar.

The panels keep popping up.

Among the latest: an eye care center in Burlington County and a mushroom farm in Chester County.

The New Jersey panels are atop 30 parking spaces at Dr.'s Eyecare Center in Burlington. The 336 panels not only charge the facility, but also provide shade for the cars of patients.

The panels are governed by a macroinverter, which, a press release explains this way: "With a traditional inverter, solar panels are connected in a series, therefore, if one panel gets shaded, it compromises the entire string of panels. With microinverters, however, each panel works independently from the others, resulting in a much better performance rate."

The center expects to see savings of $35,000 a year in energy costs. The array was installed by Eco-merica Inc., which works in the greater Philadelphia area.

In Chester County, 5,000 panels have been installed next to houses that grow white button mushrooms at Marlboro Mushrooms, in West Grove.

“Keeping mushroom crops in a controlled environment requires a tremendous amount of electricity to maintain optimal growing conditions, and we thought it was a natural step to use solar power to shoulder some of that load,” said Marlboro Mushrooms’ Tom Brosius in a press release. “It is great to harvest the sun’s power and take advantage of a renewable resource. We anticipate it will generate 100% of our annual electric needs.”

North Carolina-based Southern Energy Management (SEM) installed the SunPower solar PV system, which covers seven acres and incorporates a tracking system to ensure the panels are always facing the sun.