Harnessing the power of solar energy, Associated Grocers of New England (AGNE) is setting the standard for wholesale and retail businesses in New Hampshire and beyond with its commitment to improving the sustainability of its business. Its 500,000 sq. ft distribution center in Pembroke is now home to the largest rooftop solar installation in New Hampshire. The 1-MW SolarEdge DC-optimized array is forecast to offset approximately 20% of the building’s annual energy consumption.
After completing a number of smaller projects, AGGA identified an opportunity to achieve a large-scale energy reduction by installing a solar array on the roof of its distribution center. The facility is the hub of AGNE’s operations and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to the usual processes involved in the day-to-day running of a commercial building, the site requires a large amount of energy to power its extensive bank of refrigerators and freezers, contributing to its high energy consumption.
“Once we started looking at solar, we quickly saw it was a no-brainer. We spoke to six installers but found ReVision Energy to be the most straight-forward company to deal with. Added to that, the SolarEdge system it proposed offered the fastest ROI. That was an important factor in getting the AGNE board to sign off on the project,” said Tommy Coyle, marketing media specialist at AGNE.
The large roof surface on the distribution center meant it would have been possible to install a much larger PV system, up to 2.5 MW, which would have enabled AGNE to offset even more of its energy consumption. However, this was not possible due to New Hampshire’s 1-MW net metering cap on solar installations. As a result, finding a way to extract maximum energy from the permitted array was critical.
Following the success of the installation, AGNE hopes to expand its use of solar in the near future. In the meantime, it would like the project to act as an inspiration for other businesses.
“Our mission statement focuses on serving the community and our efforts to combat climate change is a big part of that. We hope that the success of this project will encourage other businesses to adopt solar to power their operations. Hopefully we can blaze a trail in that regard,” said Coyle at AGNE.
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Interesting a ‘cap’ on solar PV install size leaves this company with 1MWp instead of the possible 2.5MWp with another 10% capture using bifacial solar PV panels, it would be possible to take care of about 55% of the plant’s daily energy needs. Even with the 1MWp solar PV array, this company could also use a 2MWh or so energy storage system to grab solar PV energy and time shift this energy for later use, during peak or emergency energy dispatch times of the day. With the same solar array on the roof, they could cut up to 40% of their electric bill each year with proper energy storage and dispatch.