Commissioning of the first solar power plant in the USA

Arvato continues to invest consistently in the sustainability of its distribution centers.

To this end, the first solar power plant in the focus market has now been commissioned on the roof of the distribution center in Ontario, California. The solar power plant has 1,160 solar panels and generates more than 800,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of green electricity per year. This not only reduces electricity costs, but also cuts the logistics center's greenhouse gas emissions. Previously, the international supply chain and e-commerce service provider had converted five other distribution centers in the USA to green electricity.

The project started as early as November 2019 with an intensive investigation of the site, as an extensive catalog of measures and criteria had to be worked through for the installation and commissioning of the solar power plant on the roof system. After a rigorous process involving numerous stakeholders, the new solar modules were installed in August 2022. However, before the solar system could be officially commissioned, further approvals and permits were required. Once official approval for operation was granted, the switch could be flipped in February 2023 and production of environmentally friendly solar electricity could begin.

The photovoltaic system is operated under a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA). This is a unique financing mechanism available in twenty-six U.S. states, including California. While a third-party developer installs, owns and operates the solar panels, Arvato purchases the electricity generated. This allows companies in the U.S. to purchase clean, low-cost electricity without having to finance upfront costs. "The PPA and the resulting benefits were quite critical to the success of this project," says Christina Greenwell, Microsoft AOC F&L Client Services Manager at Arvato, who managed the project from start to finish. "It allows us to reduce our electricity costs while supporting Bertelsmann's ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030."

The 1,160 solar panels were added to an existing system of 920 panels owned by the logistics center's landlord. In total, the panels now cover 45 percent of the roof space at the Ontario distribution center. The emissions generated by the distribution center is now reduced by 72 percent with the new solar panels and clean power generation. As Bertelsmann plans to switch all its sites worldwide to 100 percent green electricity, the remaining emissions will be offset with renewable energy certificates.

"The new solar power plant is a significant step on our path to carbon neutrality and demonstrates our commitment to finding innovative solutions that reduce our carbon footprint," said Mitat Aydindag, President of North America at Arvato. "All employees at the site are pleased that our Ontario distribution center is now a pioneer and is providing effective support in achieving our ambitious climate goal in 2030."

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