Prestage Foods, a 260,000-sq.-ft. turkey processing plant in St. Pauls, NC saw construction begin on a solar thermal farm, which will supply an estimated 100,000
Newly installed solar thermal panels (left) will supply hot water, which will be held in tanks (right), to Prestage Foods turkey processing plant. Source: FLS Energy.

gallons of hot water per day for use in its operations. Supplied by FLS Energy, the solar hot water project is expected to be one of the more significant solar-thermal energy systems built in the US.

The solar farm will be constructed in three phases. Each phase will include 700 round-mounted, flat-plate solar panels. Phases one and two will be completed this year, and the third phase is estimated to be complete in March 2012. The solar-thermal system will also include a custom-designed pump house and solar storage system. As designed, the technology will provide hot water to the facility 24 hours a day.

Prestage Foods has made no capital investment in the development of the solar farm. FLS Energy will own the system and sell Prestage the energy it needs to heat water at a lower rate than propane, the processor’s current energy source for heating water.

“We are pleased to partner with Prestage Foods as they reduce their dependence on propane and reap the rewards of lower energy costs,” says Brownie Newman, FLS Energy vice president and director of project finance.