We, Solardarity (of the Green Economy Leadership Training), have been working with Noah for the past month to get Food Field off the grid. They’re in a unique position: they’re not yet connected to the grid and have decided to go entirely autonomous. With DTE, a grid hook-up would take months and months, upwards of $4,000, and monthly utility bills. An off grid solar system certainly has higher upfront costs (our current estimate is $7-8,000), but comes with many advantages. Replacing batteries every few years is a small expense compared to monthly bills, especially in light of the rising cost of electricity. 20 years down the road, solar systems will continue providing reliable energy while ancient grid infrastructure and costly fossil fuel electricity lose their validity. Plus, we’re getting the project going NOW! To expand their operation and keep providing you with local, organic produce, Food Field needs energy. We hope to have their system up and running within six weeks.
Typically, only people with a lot of disposable income have been able to afford solar, but we’re trying to make renewables accessible for all. Noah and his crew have put a lot of time, energy, and money into their farm and want their practices/lifestyles to align with their beliefs about sustainability. We respect that dedication, and are excited to get our hands on the panels, build this system, and replicate it across the city. These last few weeks have been a learning experience. Solar is still a small portion of our national energy portfolio, so designing an affordable system and finding sources of affordable components is a difficult task, for which there’s little available How-To information. Building this system and taking it through to completion is not an isolated event: it’s creating knowledge for a clean, reliable future.
We’re still seeking sources of funding to purchase the components of the system. We’ve applied for a grant that would cover many of the expenses. If you want to support the initiative, go to the link below and vote for the ‘Off Grid Solar System for an Urban Farm’ project. There, you can also read more about exactly what the grant will go towards. We hope for this to be the first of many projects aimed at providing affordable, autonomous solar energy to homes, farms, schools, and businesses in the Detroit area.