The food and beverage industry is powering ahead with solar energy. Mars, Danone and Clif Bar & Company are among the many RE100 companies committed to 100% renewable energy goals in the near future. General Mills, which completed its first solar project back in 2010 at a Massachusetts facility has been actively deploying more wind and solar resources over the past decade. Tyson Foods just announced a fully solar-powered poultry house, capable of housing 36,000 broilers in Alabama. Giant Food, a brand of Ahold Delhaize, recently completed a rooftop solar system at their support office in Carlisle, PA, with a ground-mounted system in progress that will collectively offset 100% of the facility's electricity needs. These companies demonstrate how solar offers not only the environmental and economic benefits, but also an effective way for brands to boost their customer relations and public image.
Why are so many companies within the food & beverage industry ideal candidates for solar? As more and more consumers become aware of the many links between food production and environmental responsibility, the demand for products from sustainably-minded companies is on the rise. According to research by Ceres, consumers want to know that the companies they support are making efforts to be more socially responsible, whether that means sourcing their ingredients through sustainable fishing and organic farming, donating excess food to charities or using renewable energy in their food and beverage processing, packaging and storage and distribution. Solar energy is a visible way to demonstrate social responsibility, and companies can promote their solar initiatives to consumers who are actively looking for sustainably-made products to purchase.Commercial solar systems are also a great match for food & beverage companies because companies in this sector are big energy users who can greatly benefit from the reduced operational costs that solar can provide. Solar energy has become increasingly affordable with federal and state incentives in addition to the 25+ years of reduced energy costs. Solar is saving food & beverage companies money as well as making their facilities more sustainable.
Food & beverage production, storage and distribution facilities as well as retail locations offer ideal sites for commercial solar installations. Solar panels can be installed on roofs or parking canopies to help companies utilize otherwise unused space. Ground-mounted systems can even be installed in brownfields. Below are examples of the kinds of food & beverage companies that have already gone solar.
Food distribution businesses are a great match for solar energy. These companies often have large commercial spaces with ample roof areas for solar installations. Food distributors such as J. Kings in Long Island, Bozzuto's Inc. in Connecticut and Krinos Foods Inc. in the Bronx have all gone solar. See a video of our installation process at Krinos Foods Inc.Additionally, cold storage facilities often have high energy needs and costs, which solar can help reduce. Preferred Freezer decided to go solar at multiple locations across their real estate portfolio and are benefiting from the advantageous project economics.
Many food retailers have also decided to go solar at their facilities. Aldi, a major food retail chain, went solar at a location in South Windsor, CT. BJ’s Wholesale, an American warehouse club chain, went solar at ten retail locations across NJ alone and have ongoing solar projects in other states.Yet whether or not a retail location has available space for a solar array, a company can still utilize solar energy. There are many creative solar project structures that enable sites with poor solar characteristics to benefit from clean, renewable energy. A unique commercial solar installation allows Stewart's Shops, a regional convenience store chain, to deploy solar energy even when several of their stores were not suitable for on-site solar arrays. A ground-mounted array in Halfmoon, NY, supplies clean energy equivalent to powering 16 Stewart's locations. Stewart's also has a solar installation on its manufacturing and distribution center in Greenfield Center, NY.
The beverage industry can take advantage of solar as well. Connecticut Distributors Inc. installed a rooftop solar system on their distribution warehouse that offsets approximately 85% of the facility's annual electricity needs. Beverage wholesaler Clare Rose also took advantage of their empty roof by installing a 1,560kW solar project that offsets 90% of the facility’s annual electricity needs. Other beverage distributors that have gone solar include Allan S. Goodman Inc. and Eder Bros., both of which have solar systems that offset more than half of the facilities’ electricity needs.Every commercial solar installation is tailored to the needs of the individual company. The solar provider will assess the energy needs of the client and the space available for the solar panels and storage. PowerFlex has been providing solar solutions for leading players in the food & beverage industry over the past decade. If you are interested in learning more about what solar can do for your company, contact us today to get started.