Rooftop Solar Chills Massive NJ Food Warehouse

Less than a year after its start, an ambitious rooftop solar panel project by Riverside Renewable Energy—said to be the “largest of its kind in North America” by its developers—is complete at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, N.J. The $42 million project created 200 construction jobs and already supplies about 80 percent of the 150-acre terminal’s power demands.

The terminal is home to the largest on-dock refrigerated warehouse on the East Coast and stores fruits, meats and dairy products around the clock. Its electricity demands are high. The Riverside project installed 1.1 million square feet of solar panels. These high-efficiency panels can produce about 9 megawatts (MW) of electricity—enough to power more than 1,500 homes. The system is expected to offset the same amount of carbon as planting 400,000 trees.

north america largest rooftop solar

image via Holt Logistics

State and federal governments provided incentives that helped drive the plan to success. According to Lee Solomon, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the project is “consistent with the policy set forth in the recently released 2011 draft (NJ) Energy Master Plan, which calls for photovoltaic solar arrays on commercial and industrial properties to lower their utility bills, improving competitiveness and reducing demands upon the electric grid.” The project received credit for ongoing solar generation through the New Jersey solar renewable energy credit program.

On April 5, 2012, U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) presented terminal officials with an award letter for an $11 million federal tax credit rebate under the Section 1603 program from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which was enacted in 2009 with the congressman’s support to foster pioneering investments in clean energy technology. “The Riverside project is an outstanding example of how we can create jobs that move us towards cleaner, more efficient and cost-saving energy that doesn’t come from overseas,” said Rep. Andrews.

The Holt family, owners of the Gloucester Terminal, oversaw construction while in partnership with SunPower, a global solar power technology company; Rabobank, a global bank and financier of renewable energy projects; and PSE&G, the local utility company that helped with the interconnection to the PJM power grid.

Based in New York City, Leah Jones is a freelance writer with undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and forensic science. She has worked on research in the toxicology field for several years, and she brings her passion for science into the realm of green technology with EarthTechling. Leah has studied English at the graduate level and has authored or co-authored over 30 publications in scientific journals. When she's not writing, Leah enjoys playing music with her husband and teaching music to New York City kids.

    • James Nadel

      With the SREC market at or below $100 / SREC, how did the owners rationalize their investment?

    • Don

      I think this is great.  I think solar energy should be installed at the point of use, like this application.  It is better than trying to power a leaky power grid.  Every watt saved on the user side is several saved on the generating side.  I think if we can incorporate solar more into the home market, even if it is only partial, like solar water heating and maybe power all the lighting in the house.  We got to start some where. 
      DON