Companies Embrace Solar Power to Boost Sustainability Credentials

A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says that as of mid-2012, more than 2,300 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic power on more than 24,000 facilities have been installed by businesses, non-profits and government agencies in the United States. The number is growing fast: only in the first half of 2012, more than 3,600 non-residential PV systems came online.

FedEx is one of the companies listed in the top 20 commercial solar power ranking. It appears at #14 and #16 for capacity and number of systems, respectively. The company opened its first solar facility in 2005. Its EarthSmart facilities at FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight have produced 18 gigawatt-hours of solar electricity and prevented 6,858 metric tons of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere. It now plans on opening a new array in Newark in 2013.

SEIA says one of the reasons more companies and organizations are embracing solar is related to falling costs. Between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012, the average price of a completed commercial PV system fell by nearly 14 percent. Besides, solar provides predictably priced electricity for two or three decades, hedging the company against utility price volatility. The market offers a range of financing options that reduce upfront costs, making it accessible to those on smaller budgets as well.

The report also looked at the companies that deployed their solar capacity for onsite consumption. In total, the 42 companies analyzed deployed at least 321 MW of PV capacity at more than 750 locations in 26 American states and Porto Rico. The 20 companies with the highest installed capacity accounted for the bigger share of that capacity, or 279 MW, which is enough to power 46,500 American households.

Image credit: FedEx