Bayer unveils dual solar projects on each coast

Bayer Whippany NJ solar
Bayer’s new solar panel installation at its main U.S. offices in Whippany, New Jersey.

Healthcare and agriculture company Bayer has installed two solar arrays at facilities in New Jersey and California.

A new solar array installation at Bayer’s vegetable research and development site in Woodland, California, will provide 70% of the site’s electrical energy demand.

“With this new installation, the Woodland site is the most onsite solar-powered operation within Bayer globally,” said Enrique Wehlen, head of sustainability, safety, health and environments (SSHE) North America at Bayer.

The Woodland solar power project follows a recently completed solar installation at Bayer’s main U.S. offices in Whippany, New Jersey. The two new solar energy projects, each designed to reduce energy costs while promoting sustainability.

Both projects align with Bayer’s sustainability commitments to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 and to have net-zero waste across its entire value chain by 2050. A key strategy to achieving Bayer’s reduction targets, which have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, is to purchase 100% sustainable renewable electricity by 2030.

Bayer has put a large focus on leveraging energy efficiency and clean energy resources to achieve its robust, science-based sustainability targets. In accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, Bayer aims to continuously reduce GHG emissions within the company and along its entire value chain. Renewable energy does not produce carbon emissions as part of the electricity generation process, dramatically reducing the total GHGs emitted.

“These solar installations are a strong signal to our employees, customers and communities where we live and operate of our commitment to GHG emission reduction,” said Delf Bintakies, global head of SSHE at Bayer. “Bayer sets specific criteria for its own procurement of green energy. This includes the proximity of energy production facilities to Bayer sites, the use of new sources of generation and a focus on wind and solar power.”

Bayer Woodland
Bayer’s new solar panel installation at its vegetable research and development site in Woodland, California.

Woodland solar installation

In Woodland, Bayer worked with Enel North America to complete a 2.7 MW solar and 1 MW / 2 MWh energy storage system. Occupying approximately 10 of the 210 acres of company-owned property supporting agricultural research, the system utilizes ground-mounted solar panels capable of generating nearly two megawatts of electricity. Complementing the solar array is a bank of batteries serving as storage for excess power to be used to offset evening peak power demand when solar generation subsides.

“This project is a great example of Bayer’s commitment to achieve a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” says Staci A Rosenberger, Woodland and San Juan Bautista site operations lead at Bayer. “With this investment, we will reduce our impact on the environment and offset electrical usage during peak demand, benefiting not only our company, but surrounding communities as well.”

Eight EV chargers will be installed for employee use later this year. Located in a region historically prone to rolling blackouts and grid disruptions, the solar-plus-storage system will help increase Bayer’s energy and operational resilience, while also reducing its carbon footprint and demand on local energy infrastructure.

“The growing prevalence of extreme weather and wildfires has underscored the need for more resilient energy solutions, said Matt Barnes, head of distributed energy solutions at Enel North America. “This project will not only increase Bayer’s energy resilience, but it will also help reduce demand on often-stressed local energy infrastructure, benefiting all energy users in the region.”

During the estimated 30-year life of the solar project, flowering cover crops, such as wildflowers, will be planted between the rows of panels for aesthetic, pollinator habitat, and soil remediation purposes.

Bayer’s Woodland site, which was established in 1972, consists of nearly 400 acres of owned and leased land. Approximately 230 plant breeders, scientists, administrators and agronomists from more than 20 different countries work at the Woodland site. At peak periods, Bayer may also employ an additional 100-plus temporary workers at the site.

Whippany solar installation

In Whippany, Bayer partnered with DSD Renewables to complete a 1.7 MW ground-mount solar installation that will offset approximately 25% of the Whippany site’s total annual usage. The installation is comprised of 3,600 modules that will follow or “track” the sun’s path from East to West each day. The design, which was completed in December 2023, helps maximize the energy the system can produce.

Throughout the development of the solar project, which began in October 2022, there were a number of design nuances, which the DSD team had to account for. Marrying form and functionality, the team strategically preserved the surrounding landscaping while optimizing solar production. This involved shifting a fence line and limiting tree removal, adding river rock to match the site’s aesthetic, and coordinating closely with the team at Bayer to ensure its on-site bee colony at Whippany, which is used for tree pollination, was not disrupted.

“This installation is the perfect example of our approach to solar development, engineering, construction, and financing,” said Dan O’Brien, VP of commercial origination at DSD.

Bayer has been utilizing solar energy for over 20 years, starting with a solar installation at its North America Consumer Health R&D labs in Morristown, New Jersey. The recent launch of the Whippany and Woodland solar projects represents the latest renewable energy efforts by the company in the U.S., which has previously announced significant projects in this space, including its Idaho Renewable Energy Agreement with Cat Creek Energy (CCE) last year.

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