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Feds, FedEx living large with solar

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solarpanelfxgThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FedEx Ground don’t have much in common but there is this:  Both are engaged in massive solar projects.

FedEx Ground, the small-package shipping unit of FedEx Corp., plans to install the nation’s largest rooftop solar-electric system at its 80-acre distribution hub in Woodbridge, N.J.

And the Army Corps of Engineers last week chose Clark Energy Group to develop the largest solar power project in Department of Defense history at Fort Irwin, CA. Acciona Solar Power will team with Clark to construct and manage the Fort Irwin Energy Solar Energy EUL project. The Enhanced Use Learning program is administered by the Corps’ Baltimore District.

The FedEx solar project is the third solar power project between a FedEx operating company and BP Solar and the fifth solar power project overall for FedEx. The 2.42-megawatt solar power system will cover approximately 3.3 acres of roof top space, using about 12,400 solar panels.

When completed, the system will have the capacity to produce approximately 2.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year and could provide up to 30 percent of the hub’s annual energy needs.

As part of the agreement, BP will install and operate the solar power system and FedEx will purchase the power generated.
Installation is scheduled to begin this month and is slated for completion by November.

When the system is fully operational, the combined environmental benefits based on a projected annual reduction of approximately 1,867 metric tons of CO2 emissions, are equivalent to one of the following:

– More than 340 passenger cars not driven for one year

– 211,900 gallons of gasoline not burned

– 4,300 barrels of oil not consumed

– 259 households’ electricity use for one year

– 47,872 tree seedlings grown for 10 years

– 13 acres of forest preserved from deforestation

Last year, FedEx Freight installed two solar power systems. One in Whittier, CA, is a 282-kilowatt system, while another in Fontana, CA, is a 269-kilowatt system. In 2005, FedEx Express activated a 904-kilowatt system at its Oakland, Calif., hub facility, making it the first of its kind in the FedEx family. That system today meets up to 80 percent of that facility’s peak energy demand. And, FedEx is currently constructing its Central and Eastern European gateway at the Cologne/Bonn, Germany, airport, which will include a 1.4-megawatt solar power system. The hub is slated for completion in 2010.

FedEx’s Woodbridge hub sits on a former brownfield site once used to stockpile soils dredged from the nearby Raritan River.  Soils and groundwater were contaminated with various polluting substances, primarily arsenic.  To build the facility, FedEx Ground worked with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on a remedial action for the site. Today, the hub houses a workforce of more than 1,000 employees and independent contractors.


The Corps calls the Clark-Acciona pilot project a “flexible, phased, multi-technology approach” to delivering 1,000 megawatts of power generation while “advancing the transformation of Forth Irwin’s overall energy security.” The proposed development eventually will include more than 500 MW of solar power that will produce 1,250 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy per year at Fort Irwin facilities.

Clark-Acciona will develop photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal technologies at an industrial scale there, the Corps says. Their plan features a phased implementation framework that accounts for site characteristics, constraints, available resources, current and future technologies, cost, access to transmission lines, and length of approval and connection processes at each stage of construction.

Once operational it will be the largest solar generating plant in California. According to the Corps, the EUL program “works to leverage the power of private capital and expertise to fund installation maintenance and operation costs in exchange for long-term leases of Army land.”

“The Army is aggressively exploring opportunities such as this to leverage renewable energy alternatives and improve our energy security posture, in close partnership with other government agencies and the private sector,” said Jerry Hansen, Army Senior Energy Executive.

The pilot project is an initiative of the Secretary of the Army’s Senior Energy Council, which coordinates and promotes energy security and policy for the Army. Clark Energy, based in Arlington, VA, is an affiliate company of Clark Enterprises, which also includes Clark Realty Capital and Clark Construction Group. Clark Energy recently received a $5 billion Super Energy Savings Contract from the Department of Energy.

Acciona Solar Power, based in Henderson, NV, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Spain’s Acciona Energia, which is headquartered in Madrid.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

3 August, 2009 at 3:05 pm

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