Toyota Motor Sales Installs Largest Single Rooftop Solar System in California

This project made so much sense, from both a business and sustainability perspective. Toyota is thrilled to be able to continue our proven relationship with SunPower.”

– Jim Cooke, National Facility Operations Manager, Toyota Motor Sales

Toyota Motor Corporation Takes a Strong Stance on Environmental Responsibility

During the past two decades, the company has implemented numerous initiatives aimed at encouraging customers and employees alike to be mindful of their environmental impacts. In 2008, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. completed the largest single-rooftop solar installation in North America, located at the company’s Ontario, California parts and distribution center. With this groundbreaking clean energy system, incorporating today’s highest-efficiency solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from SunPower, Toyota expects to reduce its carbon emissions by approximately four million pounds each year.

Toyota’s Solar Success

In December of 2002, Toyota completed the installation of their first rooftop PV system at its South Campus headquarters, located in Torrance, CA. Working in partnership with Think Energy, Inc., an energy consulting group based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Toyota acquired a 536 kW solar system, which was manufactured and installed by SunPower Corporation. This project, which was part of a larger effort to earn LEED certification for the South Campus, has reduced Toyota’s electricity purchases by 10% and is projected to avoid more than 4,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the PV system.

Thanks to the success of this first installation, Toyota continued to investigate additional energy reduction opportunities. In 2008, Toyota once again turned to partners Think Energy and SunPower to provide a solar electric solution for its Ontario, CA parts center. At the time the new PV system was the largest single-rooftop solar installation in North America. It is expected to produce more than 3.7 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, providing up to 58% of the electricity needed at the facility. This project illustrates Toyota’s ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainable practices.

An Attractive Package

Jim Cooke, National Facility Operations Manager at Toyota Motor Sales, says several elements made the second solar power installation attractive to the corporation’s senior management. “First, we knew we were dealing with a proven technology,” Cooke says. “Second, we had an established relationship with both Think Energy and SunPower. We knew we could trust their advice and product solutions.”

Based on the timing of the project, Toyota was able to take advantage of two California rebate programs: the now closed Self-Generation Incentive Program and the current California Solar Initiative. The availability of a solar power purchase agreement, developed with SunPower through GE Energy Financial Services, was an added advantage. “The PPA structure allows us to purchase clean, renewable energy with no up-front costs, which was definitely attractive,” adds Cooke.

Walking the Walk

Toyota’s solar PV systems in California have received company-wide visibility, especially among the corporation’s executive team in Japan. As Toyota continually evaluates new green initiatives, and as more rebates and tax incentives become available in the U.S., Cooke believes that additional solar installations may well be in the company’s future. “We do everything we can to make sure our products are as environmentally responsible as possible,” says Cooke. “By using clean, renewable energy, we’ve set a corporate example that we intend to walk the walk, day in and day out, in the way we conduct our business.”