In 2017, Germany-based electronics manufacturer Phoenix Contact began planning for a brand new North American warehouse. The new building would be located at Phoenix Contact’s American headquarters in Middletown, PA.
An international leader in the electronics industry, Phoenix Contact develops innovative industrial automation, interconnection, and interface solutions.
Sustainability is a core value of the company; environmental responsibility and empowering the All Electric Society are prominently featured in Phoenix Contact’s mission statement.
One primary goal of the new warehouse (aka the LCA Building) was to reflect that mission, specifically by achieving Net Zero certification, indicating 100% of its energy needs are supplied by on-site renewable energy.
As Phoenix Contact is a renowned electronics manufacturer, they also wanted to take the opportunity to showcase their own components’ power by putting them to work in the solar system.
To realize the vision, Phoenix Contact enlisted TerraSol’s help in designing and constructing the project.
Great Challenges and Greater Rewards
The LCA warehouse as planned would contain 70,000 square feet and 1MW of solar power. It was clear the project would be complex, but if done well, the benefits would far outweigh the difficulties.
TerraSol’s team began working closely with the Phoenix Contact engineering team in 2017.
The first major design consideration was the facility’s onsite co-generation; they generate their own power using natural gas via an on-site power plant. The solar system would have to work alongside the existing natural gas system.
The solution? A cleverly designed system that would produce solar energy and cut back on the gas while the sun was up, then run the natural gas at night, resulting in maximum efficiency 24/7.
The next challenge, however, would be less solvable through good design and teamwork: COVID-19 delays.
The pandemic began just as installation was ready to begin, and construction was put on hold.
Undeterred, the engineering teams used the extra time to double, triple, and quadruple check their designs, tweaking for any panels or components that had improved since the initial plans and ensuring a fully optimized design.
In the meantime, Phoenix Contact was also awarded grants from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) and Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL) specifically for clean energy projects that had been paused as a result of COVID.
One Small Step for Phoenix
Construction was able to begin in earnest in May 2021, and the 1MW photovoltaic solar system was officially completed in spring of 2022.
It used 2185 panels, produces 1,241,235 kWh/yr, and saves roughly 1,939,279 lbs/yr in CO2 emissions.
The lengthier process was well worth it, with the project providing the intended benefits and then some:
- Achieved Net Zero certification
- On days with only solar running, natural gas consumption is also reduced to almost zero
- The system generates enough power to meet the energy needs of apx. 160 homes/year
- Earned LEED Silver certification for leaders in sustainable green design
Finally, Phoenix’s proprietary building management system and monitoring components were integrated into the system, resulting in an impressive showcase for their clients.
The entire project was a clear demonstration that Phoenix will continue to push the boundaries of cutting-edge renewal technology.
Jack Nehlig, President of Phoenix Contact USA, confirmed: “Sustainability and renewable power generation are at the heart of Phoenix Contact’s vision for an all-electric society. This is one critical step on our journey to becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2030.”
Read the full case study about the Phoenix Contact project here.