Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

Edisun Rooftop Solar at Chiquita Facility Uses Tracking Systems

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  • Edisun, West Hills planning 20 megawatts of rooftop projects
  • Chiquita plant is biggest to use solar with trackers

Edisun Microgrids Inc., a solar technology company, completed a one-megawatt rooftop power plant in California that it says is the largest to incorporate panel-tracking systems that help it generate more electricity.

The project in Oxnard uses more than 2,900 trackers and will power a Chiquita Brands International Inc. facility, Pasadena, California-based Edisun said in a statement Wednesday. Building owner Harry Ross Industries financed and owns the system. Edisun, which was founded by technology investor Bill Gross, developed it with West Hills Construction Inc.

Tracking systems let solar panels tilt as the sun passes overhead every day, capturing more solar energy. They’re common on ground-mounted power plants and Edisun’s were designed specifically for commercial rooftops. The company says its dual-axis tracker can boost production while potentially lowering project cost because developers need about 23 percent fewer panels to produce the same amount of electricity as a comparable installation without trackers.

“You’re losing so much energy by not pointing at the sun,” Gross said in an interview. Gross is Edisun’s chief executive officer and the founder of technology incubator Idealab.

The Oxnard array is part of a 20-megawatt partnership between Edisun and construction company West Hills. Other projects in the partnership are far along in development and Edisun is also pursuing projects with other developers.

Edisun is considering rooftop projects at sites including colleges and car dealerships, from New York to California, Gross said. “The opportunity in Southern California is gigawatts.”

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