UPS has invested in two solar power projects at its distribution facilities in Parsippany and Secaucus, NJ.
The 1.2 MW Parsippany project was completed in the fall of 2012 and the 1.2 MW Secaucus project is planned for completion in the spring of 2013. The completion of these projects will expand UPS’s solar power generating capacity from 360 kW to 2,760 kW, and will produce in excess of 3 million kWh of renewable energy per year, UPS says.
UPS has created a viable business model by developing, engineering, purchasing, overseeing construction, and operating the solar panel arrays in-house. By utilizing a direct ownership approach, UPS says it receives a strong return on its investment in current and future developments.
A typical model is to outsource roof space for solar panels to a third-party in return for discounted energy rates for 20 years.
UPS decided to finance and build its own solar projects following a drop in solar panel installation costs, continued improvements in the technology and the availability of supportive government incentives.
New Jersey is currently second in the US for total installed capacity of solar energy technology.
The UPS facilities will typically operate during off-peak hours, which allows a significant proportion of the renewable electricity to flow back to the grid in what is known as net metering. This can help to protect against peak demand periods for kilowatt hours, which are historically higher in the New York-Northern New Jersey area, especially during peak summer months. It also means that utilities will need to purchase less energy from more expensive distant sources to cover peak periods of demand.
UPS’s initial venture into solar power development dates back to 2004 in Palm Springs, Calif., where solar panels were installed and are still generating approximately 110 kW of sustainable energy. Since 2010, at UPS’s European regional air hub in Cologne, Germany, the company has operated a rooftop solar farm that was commissioned by the airport and is producing 1.2 million kWh of electricity per year. In 2011, UPS completed the installation of a 250 kW system on the roof of its Lakewood, NJ distribution facility.
Also this week, North Carolina-based synthetic cork manufacturer Nomacorc announced it has installed a 300 kW solar array at its manufacturing campus in Zebulon, NC.