Largest direct-use solar array in the U.S. being built at an oil refinery

Decarbonization is happening in just about every industry. Flint Hills Resources is moving ahead with a solar project at its oil refinery that is believed to be the largest direct use of solar power in the country, meaning all the power being generated is connected directly to a single facility. The 45-MW solar installation will include at least 100,000 panels and connect directly to the refinery operations.

The company’s Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount, Minn., supplies the majority of Minnesota’s and much of the Upper Midwest’s gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as well as heating fuels, asphalt, fertilizer and the chemical-building blocks used in thousands of everyday products. The facility’s expected solar energy production has a peak capacity of roughly 30% of the refinery’s power needs during optimal conditions. The estimated cost of this project is $75 million.

Scottsdale, Arizona-based DEPCOM Power, a Koch Engineered Solutions (KES) company, has been selected as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.

“This is an extraordinary project and exciting opportunity to demonstrate how solar can be seamlessly integrated into a large industrial facility with a high, consistent power demand, reliably and at a lower cost than conventional, retail power,” said Justin Bloch, DEPCOM’s President of Solar. “You don’t often see utility-scale projects for a single facility and while this may be the first project of its kind at this scale, it won’t be the last. Distributed solar generation is proving to be a competitive and reliable source of power for many energy-intensive industries.”

The Pine Bend refinery is currently among the most efficient refineries in the United States, earning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR status three consecutive years. The refinery has reduced its traditional criteria emissions by 70% since 2000 and reduced its greenhouse gases approximately 10% relative to production since 2010.

The Flint Hills Resources solar installation will be the company’s second source of on-site power generation following the completion of its Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system in 2019, which provides about 50 megawatts of electricity.

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