Koch Companies Partner to Build Massive Solar Farm to Power Oil Refinery
ROSEMOUNT, Minn. – Two Koch companies are partnering to build what they say may be the largest solar installation of its kind in the United States to help power Minnesota’s largest oil refinery.
The Flint Hills’ Pine Bend oil refinery is located in Rosemount, which is about 20 miles to the south of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
According to the website of Koch’s Flint Hills Resources, the refinery supplies most of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel in Minnesota and across the Upper Midwest.
Now, Flint Hills Resources and Scottsdale, Arizona-based DEPCOM Power, another Koch company, are partnering to build a $75 million solar farm that is expected to be completed in 2023.
Once completed, the solar farm will be the second source of on-site power for the plant, following the 2019 installation of a combined heat and power system, which provides about 50 MW of electricity to the refinery annually.
“This is an extraordinary project and exciting opportunity to demonstrate how solar can be seamlessly integrated into a large industrial facility with a high, consistent power demand, reliably and at a lower cost than conventional, retail power,” said Justin Bloch, DEPCOM’s president of solar, in a written statement.
“You don’t often see utility-scale projects for a single facility and while this may be the first project of its kind at this scale, it won’t be the last. Distributed solar generation is proving to be a competitive and reliable source of power for many energy-intensive industries,” he said.
The project will also continue Koch’s efforts to lower energy costs, improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from a refinery which has the capacity to produce 375,000 barrels of fuel per day.
In 2020, the Pine Bend refinery earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® certification, signifying that the refinery performs in the top 25% of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency.
It was recertified in 2021 and 2022, reducing its emission by 70% over the course of those three years, Flint Hills Resources said in a press release.
The new, 45 MW solar farm will be composed of at least 100,000 panels, the partner companies said. They say they believe the installation will represent the largest direct use of solar power in the U.S. where all of the power being generated is connected directly to a single business.
Once completed, the facility is expected to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 8,400 homes per year, and has a peak capacity of roughly 30% of the refinery’s power needs during optimal conditions.
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