UPS took another step toward reducing its environmental footprint by installing a rooftop solar array on its Lakewood, N.J., facility, completing a project that will provide a significant portion of the building's peak energy needs.
The Lakewood installation is the first in a series of investments planned by UPS to increase the company's reliance on renewable energy.
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The 250-kilowatt solar power system in New Jersey is expected to produce 270,000 kW hours of electricity annually, providing nearly 30 percent of the building's annual energy needs. The solar installation also reduces the facility's dependence on the local electric grid.
The system is part of a growing trend on the part of transportation companies throughout the world to reduce carbon emissions in their supply chains and in offices and distribution centers. FedEx inaugurated a new solar powered Central and Eastern Europe hub at Cologne Bonn Airport last October.
UPS said it is assessing other facilities now to gauge their suitability for solar installations. "UPS is always investigating new and innovative ways to power and improve the efficiency of its facilities that also demonstrate a meaningful return on investment," said Scott Wicker, chief sustainability officer.
The Lakewood installation was custom-designed and will be owned and operated by UPS in contrast to many solar projects that are owned and managed by third parties. Its owner-operator approach saves engineering and construction costs.
The 70,000-square-foot Lakewood facility uses a system consisting of 1,036 solar panels, or 62,160 individual photovoltaic cells, installed on the facility's roof space. The facility harnesses light from the sun during the day, feeding the power into the public energy grid. At night, when the package sorting operations take place, UPS consumes energy from the grid. UPS took advantage of New Jersey's net metering rules, which offer compensation for generating excess power during the day and selling it back to the utility.
"The nature of our operation means we use most of our energy at night, so during the day much of the electricity produced by this system will flow back to the grid to support the utilities peak," said Wicker. "At night, when we're sorting the packages, we will draw from the grid the energy needed to power the facility."
The New Jersey solar facility and an existing UPS solar facility in Palm Springs, Cal., together offer significant environmental benefits based on a projected annual reduction of 161 metric tons of CO2 emissions.