NREL Program Turns Warehouses Into Rooftop Solar Powerhouses
When the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, headquartered in Golden, Colo., launched the Executive Energy Leadership Program (Energy Execs) in 2007, the goal was to inform private and public decision-makers about renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as inspire them to adopt clean-energy technologies.
From President Obama touring the rooftop solar installed at Denver Museum of Nature & Science to Business Modeling for Solar to Hydrogen Energy Storage, the program has yielded many significant success stories. But 2007 Energy Execs graduate and Prologis Vice President for Renewable Energy Drew Torbin has raised the bar—significantly.
Recently, DOE announced a $1.4-billion partial loan guarantee to support the launch of Project Amp. Dubbed by DOE as the largest rooftop solar program in U.S. history, the loan guarantee submitted by Prologis’ partner Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will enable Prologis to install photovoltaic panels on warehouse and distribution centers across the U.S.
Torbin was a driving force behind Project Amp. “We call these facilities distribution centers because they serve to distribute goods and are therefore close to population areas and, as a result, close to the grid,” he said. “Project Amp brings new meaning to the term ‘distribution center’ because we are now distributing power from those rooftops. In our view, there is no better place from which to distribute power.”
The offer of conditional commitment from DOE will be the cornerstone of a financing vehicle that can fund up to $2.6 billion in solar projects on Prologis roofs. The projected energy generated from Project Amp after four years is approximately 733 MW of solar power, similar to the total amount of PV power installed in the entire U.S. in 2010.
“This unprecedented solar project will not only produce clean, renewable energy to power the grid in states across the country, but it will help us meet the SunShot goal of achieving cost competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in the project announcement. “In addition, Project Amp will create at least a thousand jobs across the U.S. and increase our global competitiveness in the clean energy race.”
Even though the buildings in the Prologis portfolio are quite large, the energy demand within them is not equally as large. The buildings are warehouse or distribution space and the largest energy load is from lighting, which is why Prologis chose to send the buildings’ power directly to the grid, potentially offsetting energy for more than 88,000 homes.