Solar energy generation is gaining a significant foothold in the commercial market as the technology gets more approachable and as companies work to cut their energy costs and reduce their ecologic impact. One of the newest and largest solar efforts was recently put into service at the world headquarters of Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ. The ground-mounted solar tracking system consists of nearly 7,000 sun-tracking solar panels that generate 2.5 million kWhr/year of energy.
“Supporting the use of clean, reliable solar power is good for our environment and makes good business sense,” said Merck chairman, president, and CEO Richard T. Clark. “This project is consistent with Merck’s ‘going green’ efforts to reduce our environmental footprint and to promote greater efficiency in our use of natural resources.”
As a member of the U.S. EPA (Washington) Climate Leaders, Merck is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 12% by 2012 from a 2004 baseline. A solar project of the size at Whitehouse Station will avoid the annual emission of more than 1,200 tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is about the same as taking 200 cars off the road per year.
The solar array is spread out over 7.5 acres and the panels move to track the sun’s movement throughout the day. Power generated from the system will produce about 7.5% of the Merck site’s electrical needs.
Through novel arrangements that are making the installation of large solar systems more feasible, the Merck system is owned and operated by Dome-Tech Inc., Edison, NJ, a subsidiary of Carrier Corp., Farmington, CT, a unit of United Technologies Corp., Hartford, CT, which will supply solar power to Merck under a 20-yr. purchase agreement. The project was made possible through financial initiatives offered under the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, tax credits issued by the U.S. Federal Solar and Renewables Tax Credit Program, and support from the Readington Township (NJ) Planning Board.
Merck received the Green & Sustainable Energy award from the Hunterdon County (NJ) Planning Board in recognition of the solar project. Merck also recently was recognized by the U.S. EPA, Washington, with a 2009 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for continued efforts to protect the environment. Merck is also a member of the EPA’s Climate RESOLVE program.
“I applaud Merck’s responsible environmental efforts,” said New Jersey governor Jon S. Corzine. “New Jersey has one of the strongest solar programs in the nation and this private sector project is a fine complement to our own energy master plan initiatives that are securing and strengthening the Garden State’s energy future.”—Gary L. Parr