The project started as early as November 2019 with an intensive site investigation. An extensive catalogue of measures and criteria had to be worked through to install and commission 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, further approvals and permits were required before the solar system could be officially commissioned. Once official permission for the 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 unique financing mechanism is 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 buy 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 are 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, renewable energy certificates will offset the remaining emissions.
"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."