MAREC tenant plans West Michigan’s largest non-utility solar generator

Grand Valley State University has announced that a business incubator at the university’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon will build the largest non-utility solar generating project in West Michigan at Agritek Industries, a manufacturing company in Holland.

Chart House Energy LLC will build the 505-kilowatt project, which will include 3,740 thin-film solar frameless modules. The photovoltaic system will provide one-third of Argitek’s total annual power usage.

“This is yet another example of how MAREC offers an environment that helps companies move forward with development and commercialization of emerging energy technologies,” said T. Arnold Boezaart, director of MAREC.

Four years ago, Chart House Energy built the largest solar photovoltaic system in Michigan at Torresen Marine in Muskegon. The company, formerly based in Chicago, became an incubator tenant at MAREC in 2013.

Agritek and Chart House Energy also are working together to develop and implement a tilting ground-mount solar racking system, which will allow for quicker panel installations.

“This installation method will increase power production by optimizing the angle of the panels throughout the year and reducing snow cover in winter months,” said Rob Rafson, founder of Chart House Energy. “A recent University of Wisconsin study indicated that tilt-able racking can increase solar power output performance by 15 to 20 percent.”

The non-utility company solar project at Agritek Industries will move ahead later this year or in early 2015, pending completion of final approvals and permits.

The Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon is an economic development initiative of the city of Muskegon in partnership with Grand Valley State University and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

MAREC offers a range of technology-oriented business start-up and incubation opportunities with emphasis on renewable energy innovation and efficiency. It operates in partnership with the Michigan Small Business Development Center program.

Pastor John Mays talks to his congregation at Greensky Hill Indian United Methodist Church in Charlevoix, in December. The church is working on getting a solar array up and running. (Photo: Izzy Ross/IPR News)