General Mills goes solar at Massachusetts warehouse

Site is company's first solar-powered facility in the United States.

Food giant General Mills has installed enough solar panels at its yogurt production site in Methuen, Mass., that it can produce up to 80 percent of the site's summertime power needs, and roughly 40 percent of its consumption requirements for the rest of the year.

The site is the company's first solar-powered facility in the United States. They were designed and installed by Nexamp, which designs and builds clean energy systems.

The panels at the site will generate 110.7 kilowatts of electricity, which is the equivalent of powering 12 Massachusetts homes annually. The carbon dioxide emissions offset impact is 112,000 tons.

Even though this is the first U.S. solar site, General Mills is experimenting with clean energy technologies around the globe. For example, its site in San Adrian in Spain gets all of its electricity from wind power. Overall, about one-third of the energy needed to keep the site operating (so, beyond pure electricity) is provided by renewable energy sources. In Findley, Minn., General Mills is working on a biomass project for its oat-milling facility. The idea is to burn leftover oat hulls, in a process that should produce about 90 percent of the steam needed to heat the plant and make oat flour.

The numbers associated with the solar project may not seem all that large, but the range of different sustainability activities that General Mills is supporting is indicative of the fact that sustainability policies and best practices differ from region to region. Slow and steady progress, to me, is just as impressive as big-bang announcements.

Photo: Nexamp's solar PV system in Acton, Mass. (Nexamp)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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