Sun’s Out, Soup’s On: Campbell Does Solar

You might think a 9.8 megawatt solar power system would be enough to provide all the power you’d need to cook up some soup. You also might not be the Campbell Soup Company.

The new photovoltaic array at Campbell’s Napoleon, Ohio, soup factory will generate about one-sixth of the electricity it uses. The company will purchase the power from the project developer.

campbell soup,sunpower,solar power

image via Campbell Soup

The grounds at Napoleon are apparently sprawling – the system went up on a 60 acre site. Still, Campbell Soup said it used SunPower panels and the SunPower tracking system in part to boost efficiency “while signicantly reducing land use requirements.”

Now, lest you think this clean energy came about because the soup people simply rang up SunPower and ordered up a PV project, read on to see what a complicated bit of business this really was.

You’ve got BNB Renewable Energy Holdings, as a co-developer on the project; FirstEnergy Solutions, “which contracted to purchase all of the solar renewable energy credits and environmental benefits associated with the project”; and Enfinity, which “co-developed the project with BNB, arranging term financing for the project with Wells Fargo and working with BNB to manage the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with SunPower.”

Reps from these companies said various things in a press release they all jointly put out, and there actually was an interesting quote to be found. It was from the Enfinity guy.

“More and more commercial and industrial companies are seeing that onsite solar energy is a viable business proposition and a brand-builder, as it shows a commitment to sustainable energy,” CEO Rafael Dobrzynski said.

So there’s the Campbell Soup Company motivation – brand-building. Perfectly legitimate. Doesn’t take away at all from the fact that the company is helping make 9.8 MW of clean power. Pretty cool, actually, as it tells us that solar, despite the caterwauling about its hopelessness from some political quarters, still rates high with the marketers and by extension the buying public — even when the buying public is Mr. and Mrs. Middle America, not some hipsters from Brooklyn or Portland.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.