Banking on Solar

Fifth Third Bank’s Aulander Holloman Solar Facility in North Carolina is officially declared open – with 80 megawatts (MW) of capacity, it’s one of the largest solar projects in the US.

It is the first time a member of the RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, has met its entire electricity need from solar power.

Built by solar developer SunEnergy1, the facility is expected to generate clean power that is more than or equal to the amount Fifth Third uses in a year, enough to eliminate 143,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. 

It means Fifth Third has reached its 100% renewable electricity goal three years ahead of its 2022 goal.

“Fifth Third is making history”

“Fifth Third was the first member company to contract for 100% solar power and is demonstrating that renewables make business sense,” said Amy Davidsen, North America Executive Direct, The Climate Group.

“By adding clean power to America’s electricity grid, they’re accelerating a cleaner future for us all – and leading the way for other companies to follow suit.”

Fifth Third’s power purchase agreement (PPA) facilitated the construction of the solar field by guaranteeing a fixed price for the electricity it generates, thereby enabling SunEnergy1 to secure funding and begin construction.

The electricity generated by the facility will be resold at market rates into the local electricity grid, and Fifth Third will retire the renewable energy certificates (RECs) from the project.

Photo by Antonio Garcia

Banking on solar

The solar setup includes more than 350,000 solar panels generating approximately 202,000 MWh of electricity per year.

Greg D. Carmichael, Chairman, President & CEO, Fifth Third, said: “This is another example of our commitment to improving lives and doing what’s best for our communities and planet – today and into the future. 

“This project enables us to contribute positively to the economy of one of our key market states in a way that strengthens Fifth Third Bank’s performance and reaffirms for our stakeholders that we ‘do well by doing good.’.

The US$200,000 project employed 1,000 construction workers and added tens of millions of US dollars to the local tax base.

The last RE100 Progress and Insights Annual Report showed that PPAs are an increasingly popular way for member companies to source renewable electricity, with the total amount in 2017 reaching just under 9 TWh – almost double the amount reported for 2016. In 2017, PPAs accounted for 20% of all renewable electricity purchased by members in the US