Great Lakes cement plant to host and tap 25MW solar farm

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Sources: Holcim US, Chicago; CMCM 

North America’s top portland cement producer is dedicating 100 acres of its Alpena, Mich. site to a solar farm built in partnership with Jackson, Mich.-based NorthStar Clean Energy. Holcim US management anticipates that a 25 MW solar array scheduled for Q4 2024 operation will net more than 30 percent of current plant energy demand and equate to a 25,000-ton annual carbon dioxide emissions reduction. 

A Great Lakes region mainstay since in the early 1900s, the Holcim US Alpena cement plant is following the renewable energy example of a sister operation in Hagerstown, Md. (below). The company plans to have fossil fuel-free energy infrastructure powering much or all of its cement operations by 2030.

The farm is the third Michigan facility of its kind for NorthStar Clean Energy. In Alpena, crews will optimize the array for maximum energy yield with fixed-tilt bifacial solar panels that harness power on both sides. When combined with existing renewable energy efforts, the solar initiative will help self-generate 75 percent of the northern Michigan operation’s electric power needs—an important step toward fulfilling a Holcim US pledge to power all cement operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

“The solar project is another powerful example of the investment we are willing to make to address sustainability with urgency,” says Holcim US Vice President, Procurement Atl Martinez. “With new initiatives launching across the country, the momentum to transform our operations, lower our carbon footprint and reach net-zero has never been greater.”

The renewable-energy development follows the Alpena plant’s recent opening of a $7.4 million tire-derived fuel facility. Built with State of Michigan support, it is equipped to safely and cleanly convert 22,000 tons of tires per year into energy to help fuel the plant’s kiln—all while diverting a high Btu value waste from landfills and streams. 

“As we are showing in Alpena, the path to net-zero carbon emissions requires a blend of proactive solutions,” notes Holcim US Senior Vice President, Manufacturing Michael Nixon. “Whether it’s using alternative fuels or implementing renewable energy from solar power, we are committed to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels—a goal that will benefit the environment as a whole and the Alpena community we have called home for more than 115 years.”

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