Santa Paula lemon and orange grower Limoneira Co. has struck up a new partnership with Palo Alto electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. to test out its new battery system designed for a wider range of uses beyond automobiles.
The agribusiness, which currently powers part of its operations with six solar arrays and plans to add another 1.5 megawatts this year, will use Tesla’s new modular battery system to store energy for use at times when it’s needed, rather than buying utility power when it’s the most expensive, said Limoneira Senior Director Mark Palamountain. Limoneira will use the system for five years to start, he added.
Tesla’s battery system, consisting of four 250 kilowatt batteries, is designed for industrial users to store power that is either from solar arrays or bought from a utility during cheaper, nighttime hours, according to Palamountain. The system offsets Limoneira’s roughly 800 kilowatt daily peak demand, he added.
Tesla’s interest is to study how efficient the battery system will be when paired with solar manufacturing facilities, Palamountain said.
“Our role is to use power as we normally do and be the host site of the battery so they (Tesla) can study how our power profile will be maximized with the use of their battery systems,” Palamountain said. “Any shared savings we achieve with this process will be split evenly between us.”
He said the two companies started talks about a testing relationship two years ago when the vehicle maker began investigating other industries that could use its batteries.
Shares of Limoneira (LMNR) closed Wednesday up 11 cents, or less than a percent, to $18.82 on the Nasdaq.