Canadian Solar adds power to Gatorade

A leading energy drink’s thirst to do the right thing to the environment and its customers led to the installation of a 1.7 MW PV system at it’s bottling and packaging facility in Tolleson, Arizona.

“Gatorade understands the positive impact clean energy can bring to the bottom line as well as to the community around them,” commented Curt Hilliker, VP of the Commercial Division at Sun Valley Solar Solutions, which designed and implemented the solution.

More than 5,600 Canadian Solar PV panels now adorn the roof of the 900,000 square foot distribution center, which can generate more than three million kilowatt hours annually. That’s enough electricity to power approximately 200 average Arizona homes for an entire year, or over 10 percent of the electricity used by the entire Tolleson facility annually. And that translates into electricity cost savings for PepsiCo, which is Gatorade's parent company.

The solar thermal system uses a variety of technologies, including flat panels and solar beams, to pre-heat ingredient water for hot-fill products, such as Gatorade, which is heated and pasteurized before bottling. The Gatorade facility, the largest of nine plants making the drink in the US, can now use renewable solar energy to pump out 59 million cases of the sports drink a year, according to the company.

“Solar generated electricity is used for everything,” said Tom Schaefer, Director of Engineering for PepsiCo Resource Conservation.  “The warehouse, the plant – anything that uses electricity. We’re directly offsetting what we normally would have bought from the electrical grid,” he said. The importance of this and other solar projects is highlighted on page 43 of PepsiCo's Sustainability Report.

More than this, the installation has important implications for solar energy in the region as a whole. The fact that such a well-known brand has taken solar on board will be noticed by other companies. “Gatorade’s leadership plays an important role in driving the acceptance of commercial-scale solar energy, and we’re tremendously excited to partner with them on such an important initiative,” said Sun Valley Solutions’ Hilliker.

PepsiCo is developing sustainable energy and water programs at a variety of its other manufacturing sites too, including an experiment to take its Casa Grande Frito-Lay snack-chip facility nearly entirely off the public electric, natural-gas and water systems. The company also installed a large solar system at a Fullerton, California, facility last month.

"Ultimately, it's a commitment to the future," said Rich Schutzenhofer, vice president for engineering technology and sustainability for PepsiCo in Chicago.

 

While Arizona is known for its blue skies and sunshine, PepsiCo is also implementing solar solutions in less sunny climes. The United Kingdom’s Copella plant in Boxford is proving that solar energy generation is possible, even in less than optimal conditions. It recently installed solar rooftop panels that produce 150 kilowatts of electricity, becoming the first PepsiCo facility in the United Kingdom to generate on-site renewable electricity.

“This project has generated enough electricity in its first week to run an average U.K. home for a whole year,” said Dave Clark, sustainability manager, PepsiCo United Kingdom. The solar panel project at Boxford is the first of many projects that PepsiCo UK is using to continually increase the percentage of energy coming from renewable sources and help reach its goal of becoming fossil fuel-free by 2023.

Arizona, USA

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5.32 kWh per m2 per day