McDonald’s corporation announced it signed a power purchase agreement for the entire production of a 180 MW solar project in Louisiana. The Prairie Ronde solar project is expected to produce 327 GWh of electricity each year, equivalent to the energy demand of 30,700 U.S. homes.
Lightsource bp will finance, build, own and operate the facility, while McDonald’s will purchase all of the electricity generated by the project. The output is equivalent to about 630 restaurants’ energy demand each year.
Construction of the project is expected to begin in early 2023, with commercial operations starting in late 2024. Approximately 250 construction jobs for 18 months and $20 million in new revenues are expected to be brought to the local community. The privately funded solar facility is expected to cost in excess of $170 million and will require $3.9 million in annual investment to maintain the facility and its land.
“This deal marks McDonald’s second solar project in Louisiana in partnership with Lightsource bp, bringing our statewide total of solar assets to 525 megawatts representing a cumulative half billion-dollar private investment,” said Kevin Smith, chief executive officer, Lightsource bp, Americas. “McDonald’s is a great example of a corporate buyer whose commitment to sustainability is driving massive investment in new clean energy infrastructure for America’s energy security and clean energy future.”
In 2021, McDonald’s and eBay both reached agreements with Lightsource bp to purchase power from the 345 MW Ventress Solar project, which is slated to finish construction this year. Lifetime operations are estimated to generate a $30 million dollar boost to Pointe Coupee Parish.
McDonald’s aims for a 31% reduction in emissions intensity per metric ton of food and packaging across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels.
Corporate adoption of solar is on a sharp rise as large companies continue to adopt environmental, social, and governance goals, and the cost of building new utility-scale solar projects falls below the cost of fossil fuel facilities like coal plants. About half of all cumulative corporate solar capacity has been installed in the last 18 months, said the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Meta (formerly Facebook) increased its installed solar capacity from 177 MW in early 2019 to 3.6 GW in 2022 and now has the largest corporate solar portfolio in the United States.
Recent growth is due to the expansion of off-site corporate solar procurement, which now represents 55% of all commercial solar use. Almost 70% of all off-site corporate solar has been brought online since 2019.
“Whether it’s installed on a warehouse roof, on a carport or at an off-site facility, [corporate solar adoption is] showing the various ways that companies are meeting their needs with clean, affordable energy. From data centers to industrial freezers, the most energy-intensive business operations are turning to solar as the most reliable and affordable way to power their infrastructure,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive officer of SEIA.
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