TVA, Silicon Ranch, DENSO Move Forward on Four Tennessee Solar Sites

A supplier of equipment to the e-mobility industry, including electric vehicles (EVs), joined with one of the largest U.S. independent power producers at a groundbreaking for the first of four solar power farms that will provide electricity for the manufacturer’s campus.

DENSO, headquartered in Japan and with one of its U.S. manufacturing plants in Maryville, Tennessee, is building the plant along with Silicon Ranch, the Nashville, Tenn.-based IPP and solar power development company. DENSO’s commitment to solar power is aligned with its partnership with the City of Maryville Electric Dept. and Tennessee Valley Authority; officials from those groups also participated in the Nov. 2 groundbreaking.

The new solar farm is the first of four DENSO has planned in Tennessee. The company said the use of solar power for its operations “helps DENSO advance its Two Great Causes: Green—achieving carbon neutrality by 2035—and Peace of Mind—creating a safe and seamless world for all.” The company said the installations will strengthen its involvement in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants program, “and bolster broader efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing operations and energy use.”

Manufacturing Hub

DENSO officials on Tuesday said when the solar projects are completed, and when coupled with additional energy conservation initiatives, all the electrical needs for the Maryville facility will be sourced from renewable energy. The Tennessee site is a manufacturing hub for DENSO electrification and safety systems. Tuesday’s event comes after DENSO earlier this year installed EV chargers at the Maryville facility.

Officials from several groups take part in the Nov. 2 groundbreaking ceremony for the first of four solar farms in Tennessee that will serve DENSO’s manufacturing hub in Maryville. Courtesy: Silicon Ranch

“Our mission is to contribute to a better world, and as part of that, we’re committed to reducing CO2 emissions, not only through our products, but also in our operations and processes,” said Shinichi Nakamizo, president of DENSO’s Maryville facility and a senior director of DENSO Corp. “We’re grateful to Maryville Electric, Silicon Ranch and TVA for helping us turn our commitment into action. We also thank our Maryville team, whose leadership is instrumental in this project and helps advance local communities toward a clean energy future.”

Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch co-founder and chairman, told POWER: “Silicon Ranch is a Tennessee-based company dedicated to making a positive impact in all of the communities we serve as an independent power producer, neighbor, and land owner. That means it is essential that we only work with partners who have a shared mission to deliver on every promise. This groundbreaking, at the first of four facilities we have planned, is an extension of our ongoing partnership with DENSO, the community of Maryville, and TVA, and just the start of our long-term relationship as neighbors and partners in this community. Bringing these solar facilities to life gives us the opportunity to expand access to renewable energy in our home state and is another proof-point of our people-first approach.”

‘Incredible Opportunity’

“These solar farms are an incredible opportunity for us to bring renewable energy to our community from a trusted source,” said Baron Swafford, the public utilities director for the City of Maryville. “TVA’s Generation Flexibility Program allows us to combine the unique offerings of DENSO and Silicon Ranch to develop a sustainable power source for our communities and those around us in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.”

DENSO, through collaboration with the City of Maryville Electric Dept. and Silicon Ranch, will access a portion of the total 10.5 MW of solar energy produced under TVA’s Generation Flexibility program, starting with the facility located on DENSO’s Maryville campus. The TVA program enables participating local power companies to generate up to 5% of their total energy load to meet the renewable energy goals of their customers. The program also is designed to attract sustainability-focused businesses to those power companies’ communities, and provide solutions to specific challenges for those groups’ distribution systems.

“TVA has been bringing renewable energy to the Valley for over 20 years, and this partnership using TVA Green programs expands the reach that our Green Renewable Solutions have on local communities across our region,” said Doug Perry, TVA senior vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions. “With a shared mission in mind, this solar project with Silicon Ranch and the others to follow will not only help us meet our own sustainability goals but those of our LPCs and their customers as well.”

DENSO’s U.S. headquarters is in Southfield, Michigan. The company has 51 offices across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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