Coca-Cola (KO) announced another major green initiative in the teeth of the Copenhagen eco-frenzy on December 14, as the world's biggest beverage company pushes ahead with an aggressive green agenda. Coca-Cola announced it had signed an agreement with Spanish utility Endesa to install a large three megawatt solar installation on rooftops of two Coca-Cola buildings in Seville, Spain. The project will use solar panels made by Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), a maker of thin-film flexible solar panels based in Rochester Hills, Mich.When completed, the project will be the largest rooftop project to date for the giant Spanish utility and one of the largest rooftop projects in the world in terms of power generating capacity. The installation will generate enough power for close to 1,000 homes. Endesa will own the solar installation and sell the power back to Coca-Cola at a fixed price, an increasingly popular arrangement in Europe and the U.S. that is called a power purchase agreement (PPA). To date, rooftop solar installations have generally been smaller, even in commercial settings, due to weight and space constants. The new crop of more efficient thin-film panels, made by companies like Energy Conversion Devices, are making it much easier to put more photovoltaic capacity on the tops of commercial and government buildings.
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As concern grows in the business community about global warming and greenhouse gases, more large multinationals have stepped forward with aggressive programs to shift away from fossil fuels and towards more sustainable production systems. Just last week, Coca-Cola announced an ambitious plan to eliminate all the company's HFC-containing refrigeration systems. HFC is a refrigerant that replaced its ozone destroying predecessor CFC. But HFC also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Coca-Cola estimated that its shift away from HFC will, over the life of the project, eliminate the equivalent of emissions from millions of cars. The program will cost hundreds of millions of dollars but could be well worth it to the soda pop giant as it continues to not only move toward green but also to cash in sustainability brownie points with consumers and shoppers.
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