The trend in corporate solar projects is to generate as many kilowatt hours as possible often on a limited rooftop space. A facility in California that is leased by Chiquita recently made use of its 368,000 square feet of roof to install over 3000 solar panels. That all sounds very conventional for a rooftop solar installation, but the difference is that the panels are mounted on a unique, state-of-the-art rooftop tracking system, which boosts PV production an estimated 30%.
The impetus for the solar project was that Chiquita had entered into a long-term lease with the building’s owner, and the lease stated that the tenant would be responsible for replacing 368,000 square feet of roof, as well as contracting directly with the local power utility. The related expenditures to be paid by the tenant were $1.28 million and $100,000 respectively. Chiquita knew that by adding solar to the rooftop, they could not only save money, but benefit by using clean and green energy. With solar in mind, the owner amended the lease so that Chiquita could oversee the installation of solar with the agreement that the company would purchase all of the electricity generated over the lease term. In exchange, the owner would pay for the roof investment as well as deliver the solar to Chiquita at a discounted price.
Edisun reports that the Chiquita facility is the largest corporate rooftop installation of a PV tracking system. Tracking systems work by enabling the solar panels to tilt as the sun passes overhead every day, thus capturing more of the sun’s energy for a longer period of time than a fixed tilt installation.
Economic success story
The project economics are a success story in themselves. The owner expected that the solar installation would increase the property’s market value by $4.3 million with no increase in property taxes due to the solar installation. In addition, the owner anticipates using future annual kWh cost savings as an incentive to extend the term of the tenant’s lease. From the tenant’s perspective, they saved over $1.4 million in year 1 by not having to foot the cost of the roof replacement or maintenance. And by using clean energy, the company is meeting its corporate sustainability goals.
“From responsible water management to the adoption of renewable energy, environmental stewardship has been a key pillar of the Chiquita business for decades,” said Andrew Biles, president and chief executive officer, Chiquita Brands International. “Going solar at our Oxnard facility helps us directly achieve our corporate sustainability goals, and meaningfully strengthens our leadership position among environmentally conscious global organizations.”
Written by Anne Fischer, Managing Editor, Solar Novus Today