The rest of the logistics world may be reeling from fossil fuel price hikes, but not the folks at FedEx. They've quietly taken online a facility that draws its energy from the sun.
Back in August, the giant shipping company threw the switch to activate the solar-powered system at its hub at Oakland International Airport. Solar power now provides 80 percent of the facility's energy needs. At peak output, the system will produce the equivalent of the power needed to run more than 900 homes during the daytime. In addition to generating electricity, the solar panels help insulate buildings, reducing heating and cooling costs.
Along with slashing FedEx's own fuel costs, the solar-electric system will make FedEx a better corporate neighbor. Not only will the system reduce demand on California's notoriously overtaxed utility grid, but it will also serve as an additional source of power. During periods when the energy generated by the system exceeds what's needed to power the facility, the surplus energy will be transferred into the utility grid for general use.
The solar project, which features a system designed and built by Berkeley-based PowerLight Corp., is one of many environmental initiatives FedEx has rolled out in recent years. In 2000, FedEx Express introduced hybrid-electric delivery trucks into the market. Today, it runs the largest hybrid-powered courier vehicle fleet in the United States and plans to place an additional 75 hybrid vehicles into service in the next year. The company also reports that its FedEx Kinko's division has introduced a conservation program that includes buying renewable power, using and promoting the sale of recycled products, recycling and minimizing waste.