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Mars goes solar at Vegas site

By Oliver Nieburg , 27-Feb-2012

Mars Chocolate North America has opened a solar garden at a production facility in Henderson, Nevada that will provide 100% electricity during peak operating hours.

The 4.4 acre solar installation will power the factory, which manufactures premium brand Ethel M chocolates.

Energy

Mars claims that the solar garden is the largest of any food manufacturer in Nevada.

It features 2,112 ground-mounted solar panels that will generate 1,258 megawatt hours of electricity per year – enough to power 115 households.

Mars said this would help it eliminate 867 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases, which would be the equivalent of removing around 170 vehicles from the road.

The company will purchase all energy produced at the solar garden run by energy firm juwi solar (JSI).

Benefits for Mars

Mars site director at the Henderson plant Mack Phillips said: “Turning one of the desert’s greatest assets into energy is in complete alignment with Mars’ Principles in Action, our core business values.”

Mike Wittman, Mars vice president of supply added: “This newest solar garden moves us closer to our goals of eliminating our carbon footprint at our sites by 2040 and using 100% renewable energy.”

Going solar

The move marks Mars’ second solar project in North America.

In 2009, Mars over 28,000 solar panels across 18 acres adjacent to Mars Chocolate North America's headquarters and M&M production facility in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

This larger solar garden provides approximately 20% of the plant's peak energy consumption, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by around 1,000 metric tonnes.

Phillips said of this site: “Its impact on our operations has been substantial.”

Renewable strategy

Outside the US, Mars has launched other solar initiatives in recent years.

The company claims a solar hot water system at its sales and marketing operation in Dubai has cut CO2 emissions by more than 200 tonnes since 2007.

A Wrigley plant in Guangzhou, China also features 400 square meters of rooftop solar panels, which Mars said had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 200 tonnes.

The company said: “We explore the use of on-site renewable energy when building new operations, and will also increase renewable-energy installations at existing operations.

“While renewable energy can initially cost more than non-renewable sources, it can deliver environmental and economic benefits over time.”

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