FedEx, GlaxoSmithKline step up solar investments

Businesses continue to invest in alternative energy technologies absent of significant federal progress on alternative energy policy.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Two of the world's biggest companies are extending their solar investments this month, citing their responsibility to lead innovation in alternative energy.

Consumer healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) this week started building what it is describing at the largest rooftop solar array in North America (this week at least!) on top of its distribution center in York, Pa.

The roof covers 360,000 square feet, which (for those who love comparisons) is the equivalent of seven American football fields of space. There will be 11,000 solar panels in the array. The project will offset approximately $424,000 in energy costs annually, and it will reduce the company's reliance on public energy sources by 90 percent. The company got $1 million in a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to help fund the project, which will be used as a test case for possible replicate at other GSK facilities.

FedEx Express, meanwhile, has opened a new hub for Central and Eastern Europe that is its second solar-powered facility. (It is the fifth solar operation for FedEx parent company, FedEx Corp.)

The installation at the Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany is the largest solar array yet for the compay, covering approximately 16,000 square meters, or something like 172,000 square feet. The array is supposed to produce approximately 800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. In aggregate, the five FedEx solar arrays are supposed to reduce the company carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 3,918 metric tons.

Aside from solar, FedEx, like the other major delivery and transportation companies, has been investing in alternative-fuel vehicles and it recently added new all-electric delivery vehicles in Paris and Los Angeles. Overall, the company has pledged to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 20 percent; it hopes to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions produced by its aircraft fleet by 20 percent per available ton mile by 2020.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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