Cargill and TEVA Energy LLC have commissioned a large solar energy system at a meat-processing facility in California, harvesting solar energy for process heating.

Cargill’s Fresno beef processing plant has added solar energy to preheat water used throughout the plant for food safety and sanitation purposes. The system reduces the facility’s fossil fuel energy requirements, cutting the facility’s environmental footprint. The solar energy recovery system is coupled with an existing methane-recovery system installed several years ago.

The system was custom designed to meet the specific needs of the beef processing facility. TEVA and its financier, Skyline Innovations Inc., installed and own the solar system, eliminating a capital investment by Cargill. To finance the project, TEVA and Skyline aggregate incentives with the income stream from the solar energy sold to Cargill at rates below their natural gas rates.

According to Delshawn Brown, environmental manager at the Fresno facility, energy savings were realized almost immediately after the new system was commissioned. System performance is being monitored in real time by TEVA, Cargill and the state’s California Solar Initiative program through remote metering, as well as on-site monitoring equipment.

The beef processing facility is one of the largest of its type in California, producing more than 124,000 tons of beef products annually and employing 975 people.