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Is Business Buying Into Murphy’s Clean-Energy Goals? Looks Like It

One company is doubling solar capacity at Warren County site, making it the second largest net-metered facility on the East Coast

Solar field
Credit: DSM North America
DSM North America’s solar farm in Belvidere, Warren County will double in capacity.

New Jersey’s state’s environmental community has bought into the Murphy administration’s goal of having 100 percent clean energy by 2050 big-time, but they’re not the only ones.

Some of the state’s top business executives also are embracing renewable energy. Take DSM North America, which this week plans to announce the expansion of its solar field at its manufacturing plant in Belvidere, Warren County.

The 20.2-megawatt project will double the capacity of DSM’s original solar farm, making it the largest net-metered solar facility in New Jersey, and the second largest on the East Coast. It will span 60 acres of the 500-acre site in Belvidere, and provide energy for the manufacture of nutritional products. (Net metering credits owners of solar-energy system for the electricity they add to the grid.)

“I am very encouraged by the administration’s rhetoric on this issue,’’ said Hugh Welsh, president of DSM North America, whose headquarters are located in Parsippany. “The plant in Belvidere proves it can be done.’’

Excess energy will be sold back into the grid

The 62,215 solar panels at the site will use DSM’s anti-reflective coating, the company’s flagship product for the solar market; it reduces the reflection of sunlight, thus increasing the energy output of the system.

The solar field will provide more than enough energy to power the Belvidere plant, which employs 250 and has operated at the site for 50 years. Excess electricity will be sold back into the grid, according to company executives, improving the plant’s economics.

DSM, a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Royal DSM, is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and to sustainable manufacturing. Founded in 1902, it originally was a coal company (Dutch State Mines). It now touts itself as a global-based science company focusing on nutrition, health and materials business.

The investment in the solar expansion comes at a time of uncertainty for New Jersey’s solar sector as the state is mulling scrapping its existing way of financing the renewable energy. But Welsh said the project still made a lot of sense financially.

DSM is currently scouting out potential locations for a new food enzyme plant, and Belvidere remains one of the candidates for the facility, according to Welsh.

The company’s Belvidere facility is projected to provide 23,437 MW hours of electricity annually — the equivalent of enough to power 2,614 homes over a year. And the savings that will be reaped are not immaterial, Welsh said.

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