Incorporating technology from a progressive electric car company, Cargill realizes opportunities for cutting energy and costs.
Among Cargill’s meat operations across North America, its large-scale meat processing plant in Fresno, California, is a leader in sustainability. Jon Nash, the plant’s manager, and his team of 1,000 employees operate one of the most environmentally friendly meat processing facilities in the United States, maintaining a remarkably small footprint while producing more than 110,000 metric tons of beef annually. The plant’s solar energy collection and methane gas recovery systems offer renewable ways to heat water, which provides an environmentally sustainable way to sanitize the plant and equipment for food safety. Despite the facility’s past sustainability achievements, the team in Fresno is constantly driven to do even more.
The Cargill team contacted Tesla, a revolutionary electric car company based in California, to collaborate on a unique initiative. Together with Pacific Gas & Electric, a local utility provider, Tesla and Cargill installed a 1-megawatt battery system—the same technology used in Tesla’s clean-air vehicles—at the Fresno beef processing plant. During off-peak hours, the batteries store electricity to be used during peak use hours—when electricity rates are at their highest. It was a groundbreaking idea: taking the latest in electric battery storage technology and introducing it into a large-scale industrial setting. With the installation in the first half of 2015, Cargill was one of the first companies to employ the technology at their facility.
“Tesla Energy Storage is another example of our willingness to employ new and different concepts for reducing our environmental footprint,” said Nash. “We understand that while we produce nourishing protein for millions of people on the West Coast, it is important for us to do so as responsibly as possible.”
In Fresno, the TeslaTM batteries are currently supplying approximately 25% of the plant’s electricity needs and are projected to save the facility over US $100,000 annually. Looking ahead, Cargill believes there is the potential to apply this technology at more facilities in more of its businesses, reducing the company’s environmental impact in countries around the world.