Florida Crystals expands renewable energy production

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 9:35 PM EDT
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Florida Crystals Corp.’s rice mill is converting sunlight to renewable energy from a 900-panel solar array and the first Tesla Megapack battery in Florida in a goal for its operations to become carbon neutral, the company announced Wednesday.

The sugarcane company already was powering 80% by renewable energy, which includes its agricultural and industrial operations as well as its corporate offices and fleet. Florida Crystals rotates sugarcane, rice and vegetables on 190,000 acres in western Palm Beach County.

Florida Crystals uses its biomass as fuel to generate the clean, green energy that powers its operations.

The Tesla Megapack battery is at its Sem Chi Rice Mill in Belle Glade. The company owns to rice mills.

Florida Crystal's Tesla Mega battery pack.
Florida Crystal's Tesla Mega battery pack.

“Our solar project is an amazing complement to how Florida Crystals is already powered,” Andy Sauber, senior director of sustainability, said. “The majority of the power for our operations already comes from the sun because our main fuel source is our own sugarcane fiber, which grows by converting and storing energy from sunlight. This new investment at our rice mill is literally making us even more solar-powered than we already are, but instead of storing the energy in our plants, we are utilizing a Tesla Megapack battery.”

Okeechobee County solar panels.png
Okeechobee County solar panels.png

The solar panels provide power to the rice mill and charge the battery during the day, and the battery then supplies power to the rice mill after dark.

“The solar panels, and particularly the Tesla battery, provide reliable electricity throughout the day and night, ensuring continuous operation of the mill and the protection of our staple food products no matter what Mother Nature has in store,” Sauber said.

This first phase of the solar project will power one of the rice mill’s two electrical meters and supply approximately 20% of the total energy needs estimated to reduce carbon by 250 tons annually.

The rice mill supplies 90 million pounds of locally grown rice each year – enough to feed more than 4 million people annually.

The end of the rice harvest season, when storage silos are at full capacity, coincides with the peak hurricane season, when there is a much higher likelihood of power shortages.

The Megapack eliminates the needs for industrial-sized diesel generators.

Scripps Only Content 2023