Intel Corp. said Monday it will install rooftop solar panels at its Ocotillo and Chandler Boulevard complexes in Chandler as part of a companywide solar electric program.
The company plans to install a total of 2.5 megawatts of solar generating capacity at eight locations in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Oregon during the next seven months.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor company also said it will increase by 10 percent its purchase of renewable energy credits this year to more than 1.43 billion kilowatt hours, which amounts to more than 51 percent of its estimated 2010 U.S. electricity use.
By purchasing the credits, the company said it will support production of wind, solar, geothermal, small hydroelectric and biomass energy by the operators of those power sources.
“Intel is committed to renewable energy to reduce our own carbon footprint as well as to spur the market and make renewables more economically feasible for individuals and businesses to deploy,” said Brian Krzanich, vice president and general manager of manufacturing and supply chain, in a written statement.
Each of the photovoltaic panel projects will rank among the 10 largest solar installations in its respective utility region, the company said. For example, the two Chandler projects will each rank as the fifth largest in the SRP service territory and the second largest combined, the company said.
The largest is a solar installation at a Gatorade production and distribution plant in Tolleson, according to SRP officials.
All of the Intel solar panels will be installed on rooftops except the largest installation, a 1-megawatt solar field in Folsom, Calif., that will cover nearly six acres.
The photovoltaic technology produces an electric current when exposed to sunlight.
In Chandler, the panels will be installed on the roofs of office buildings at the Ocotillo manufacturing complex at Dobson and Ocotillo roads and at Intel’s research campus at 5000 W. Chandler Blvd.
They will supply only a few percentage points of the total power use of the office buildings, but the company hopes to expand the installation in future years, said Marty Sedler, Intel’s director of global utilities.
“Solar is still very inefficient and doesn’t operate in the nighttime, obviously,” he said. “But we hope eventually to maximize other roofs and land areas.”
He said it would take two to three acres of photovoltaic panels to provide enough electricity for just the Chandler office buildings — and that doesn’t include the manufacturing and research facilities.
Though modest in size, the project will get the company going in the realm of generating sustainable electricity, Sedler said. The company currently operates only one small solar generating facility in Oregon.
“We wanted to get started and get something going,” he said. “We thought this was a good time to get our feet wet and expand from there.”
Although Intel hasn’t been involved directly in solar energy production, it has contributed financially though the purchase of the renewable energy credits.
Also Intel Capital, the company’s venture investing arm, has contributed about $125 million to more than a dozen clean technology companies on four continents.
The company did not announce the cost of the latest program.
Sedler said Intel will use many Arizona suppliers, including Tempe-based First Solar, for the solar panels. Installation is expected to begin in a few weeks and be completed in early April, he said.