Renewables, Solar

Pilot Program Brings Solar to Six City and Six Suburban Sites

CHICAGO—The BP Amoco station on the corner of LaSalle and Ontario has something extra going for it in addition to quality products, customer-pleasing service and a location on one of Chicago’s key arterial streets. The station now is a working demonstration of how the sun can help power today’s businesses.

At a Grand Opening ceremony, BP officials, City of Chicago representatives and local business and environmental leaders celebrated the connection of a new array of solar modules atop the pump island canopy to the station’s power supply. The solar array will contribute directly to the station’s bottom line by reducing the station’s monthly electric bill and showcases BP’s commitment to adding the benefits of solar to its stations in and around Chicago. The “thin film” solar modules at the station generate up to six kilowatts of electricity, about 10 to 15 percent of the station’s power-enough to light the inside of the store and run some of the store equipment

The solar modules, manufactured by BP Solar, are part of a BP project aimed at demonstrating real-world applications of solar electricity and how businesses and residences alike can benefit from solar power. During the next year, 12 stations-six in Chicago and six in the suburbs- will receive the panels and become solar.

“BP is committed to providing energy that helps reduce emissions while continuing to provide the fuels that ensure mobility for everyone,” said Don Althoff, BP senior vice president for retail marketing. “The solar modules at this station are evidence of how business needs for clean energy can be met while helping to reduce operating costs.”

BP announced earlier this month that it will create a new convenient store design, BP Connect, that will be equipped with solar panels. “In the next four or five years, these BP Connect stations in the Chicagoland area will be powered, in part, by solar energy,” said Althoff. “That’s a lot of stations using the sun’s energy to save money and do their part to help the environment.”

Solar electricity is an important element of BP’s three-part effort to reduce global emissions. It has introduced a variety of cleaner fuels in cities around the world, including the American debut in October of low sulfur premium gasoline in Chicago and the introduction of low sulfur gasoline in all grades in Chicago by 2001. BP has also set a goal of a 10 percent reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from its own operations by 2010 from a 1990 baseline.

“We are excited to see BP’s leadership in adding solar energy to its facilities in Chicago,” said Bill Abolt, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Environment. “It compliments the City’s commitment to bring solar power and other clean power sources to Chicago and to make Chicago a center for green technology.”

Chicago is demonstrating these technologies by putting solar panels on the City’s museums, and Mayor Daley recently announced that the largest solar generating station in the country will be built in the city’s Calumet area. The City and 48 other local governments have let out a request for proposals for municipal power that specifies 20 percent from renewable sources.

“Although BP has operations around the world, it is our presence in communities like Chicago where we must make a difference,” Althoff said. “Our success will ultimately be measured by how well we connect with our customers. Projects like this that combine solar electric innovations at our stations, educational opportunities for our young people, and support from our customers are a step in the right direction.”

BP, in an effort to further promote solar energy education, also announced a special solar energy classroom curriculum designed by BP Solar will be made available to elementary and middle schools in Chicago and its suburbs.