Editor’s Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.
In February 2022, SunPower’s Commercial and Industrial Solutions business was acquired by TotalEnergies. Learn more about sustainability options for these industries.
Solar power has steadily evolved, breaking its own records and positioning itself as the most affordable form of renewable energy in the nation. The industry’s growth has led to a stronger workforce to further improve the technology and develop solutions that are helping business owners cut overhead costs. Because of this, more and more businesses are turning to solar and combined solar + storage solutions to deliver renewable energy and reduce operating costs. In fact, this clean energy combo has become a popular solution for the transportation industry to save meaningful dollars during COVID-19 setbacks.
According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 2019 was a record-breaking year for their airport system. Altogether, their airports served 140.5 million passengers, a 1.6% growth over the previous year. Then the global pandemic of 2020 hit, sending the transportation industry into crisis mode. People stayed home and bustling hubs like John F. Kennedy International Airport experienced a 98% drop in domestic passenger volume.
Airports weren’t the only sectors reporting significant losses. The transportation industry as a whole began proposing budget cuts and slimming operations in response to safety and health precautions. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) considered closing 19 of its stations absent additional federal relief funding. The transportation industry needed results that would provide them with long-term savings, something solar energy has a strong reputation for.
Last year, SunPower worked with four notable transit industry leaders looking to not only adapt but thrive through the help of solar power. These projects are all positioned to help rebuild their respective communities and transportation infrastructure for a stronger and greener future.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
The transportation industry has been a champion for community solar, and JFK International Airport is no different. SunPower is set to install what will be New York State’s largest onsite solar + storage system in partnership between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York Power Authority. Goldman Sachs Asset Management L.P.’s Renewable Power Group is also a crucial stakeholder in the project and will be involved in long-term ownership and operation of the project’s more than 12.3 megawatts of solar and 7.5 MW / 25 MWh of energy storage. The project will also offer the airport’s surrounding environmental justice communities an opportunity to lower their electric bills through the state’s community distributed generation program.
Delaware River Port Authority and PATCO
The DRPA and PATCO SunPower project will be one of the largest transportation-related renewable energy initiatives in New Jersey. The 22-megawatt solar system consisting of more than 50,000 solar panels is expected to produce electricity equivalent to more than 50% of the total electricity consumption of DRPA and PATCO. High-efficiency solar carports will be spread out across 7 PATCO locations and at the DRPA’s headquarters. Altogether, the project has been projected to save approximately $12 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.
In the Washington, DC region, four of Metro’s sites will turn into hubs for solar power, featuring SunPower solar carports with up to 12.8 MW of energy capacity. It is another transit-led project that is giving back to the community. As the largest community solar project in the national capital area, the project is expected to generate enough electricity to power at least 1,500 single-family homes.
In exchange for hosting these solar arrays on its property, WMATA will receive lease payments for 25 years during the solar projects’ operation from project companies Goldman Sachs Renewable Power LLC is in the process of acquiring. The power will be provided to the energy grid and clean energy delivered to homes and businesses throughout the region. This project is a “quadruple win” providing revenue for the transit agency, covered parking for its riders, clean energy delivered to community solar subscribers and reduced carbon emissions and air pollutants in our environment.
The leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses will host one of the largest rooftop solar power systems in the Bay Area. GILLIG’s headquarters and assembly plant will feature a three-megawatt 7,800 solar panel system paired with solar battery storage. Energy from the system will support the company’s sustainability efforts by directly powering transit bus manufacturing and charging their fleet of zero-emission battery-electric buses. The company has also installed 30 employee electric vehicle charging stations. GILLIG’s efforts to adopt clean energy and pass it on through their product offerings is just the kind of domino effect needed in the transit sector.
Transportation infrastructure projects and electrification of vehicle fleets are well-positioned to obtain infrastructure funding. Securing these grants, incentives and subsidized financing can be complex and often competitive.