By Steve Dwyer
Campbell Soup Co. is putting the finishing touches on a 4.4-megawatt solar energy system installation at its 38-acre Camden, N.J. headquarters, including panels mounted to rooftops, positioned on a reclaimed brownfield and on canopies built over employee parking lots.
The installation is scheduled to be in full operation by this Fall and will generate more than 5m kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
With the continuously increasing demand for electric power, the significantly high price of oil and the growing concern for the environment, many businesses similar to Campbell’s are resorting to alternative sources of energy like this one. And it’s a prudent decision for a host of reasons, including reduction of operating costs, strong return on investment, maintenance-free and amp-reliable, and it provides a chance to earn the Green LEED label designation—garneting a “halo effect” for any business.
Campbell indicated that the solar project will generate about 5 million kilowatt hours a year, or about 20% of the campus’ annual energy demand. Under terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement, Campbell will pay a fixed rate that is currently “well below” its current power costs.
One cautionary tale when it comes to a solar investment is establishing a process or system to calibrate the proper distribution of power throughout the course each day—matching daily demand with supply requirements and understanding the ebb and flow of power usage from a day-part perspective.
For example, the California Independent System Operator established the “duck curve,” as a typical day’s electricity demand historically features two peaks: One in the morning and a larger one in the afternoon. There’s a trough, or “shoulder,” period between them. Fleets of different power plants are fired up to meet this pattern of daily electricity demand and to match the ramp-up and ramp-down.
That’s a phenomenon that large corporations like Campbell are sure to have studied and are in the process of refining in a qualitative way. The New Jersey project was developed by BNB Renewable Energy Holdings using systems developed by SunPower Corp. BNB and financial company Orix USA will own the system, which is being financed through Public Service Electric & Gas Co.’s solar loan program.
Campbell partnered with BNB Renewable Energy Holdings (BNB), SunPower Corp. and ORIX USA Corp. in the initiative. The project is the third solar installation BNB has developed for Campbell, having also worked on solar power facilities at the company's plant in Napoleon, Ohio and at its Pepperidge Farm bakery in Connecticut.
Jim Prunesti, Campbell’s global engineering vice-president, said in a statement recently: “This project contributes clean energy to the local grid and demonstrates to our community the viability of renewable energy sources, all while supporting Campbell’s sustainability strategy to deliver long-term value to our business and neighborhoods.”
In November, Campbell was among 15 companies named as members of the “inaugural class” of US Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, a national campaign to recognize U.S. businesses and organizations pledging concrete steps to reduce food loss and waste in their operations by 50% by 2030.
Among the renewable energy sources, solar energy is a sustainable choice and one that can be used in various applications. Many businesses are now tapping into this alternative source of energy, hoping to benefit from its numerous advantages, including:
Reduced Operating Costs. Solar power systems will reduce or even eliminate your office building’s electric bill. For big and small businesses, this money savings can have a tremendous impact. Having a solar power system installed is the equivalent to prepaying for almost 40 years of energy, but at just a fraction of what you are currently paying for electricity. The cost per unit of your current energy costs is likely much higher than what you would spend for solar power. This results in further savings for your business.
Good Return on Investment. Government incentives and the decrease of solar equipment costs means the utilization of solar power is a sound investment and a good financial decision for public agencies and businesses. Investing in solar power generates both long-term savings and quick payback.
Maintenance-Free. Once installed, a solar power system will require little or no maintenance at all, most especially if there are no batteries being used. The system will provide electricity quietly and cleanly for 25 to 40 years. Many solar panels carry a 25-year warranty.
Earning the "Green" Label. Utilizing electricity from solar power will result in reduced consumption of fuels, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. By using this alternative source, any business or company can express its participation in the battle against global warming and can reduce the country’s dependence on foreign sources. Going green will not only reduce operation expenses but will serve as a great PR and marketing tool. Having an environmentally responsible image is good for any company, as it can generate a positive response from consumers.