How Kingspan’s strategic focus on onsite solar covered 20% of its Swedish factory’s electricity
Leading the charge for the construction industry to cut carbon emissions, Kingspan implemented rooftop solar at its state-of-the-art factory in Stigamo outside Jönköping, Sweden, ultimately covering 20 percent of the factory’s total electricity requirements.
Founded in 1965 and headquartered in Ireland, Kingspan is a world leader in advanced insulation and building solutions. Today it operates in more than 70 countries, with more than 19,000 employees worldwide and 198 manufacturing sites.
In 2018, Kingspan recognized a major opportunity to expand into Sweden by building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for its premium Kooltherm insulation product range. Demand for its Kooltherm products had grown significantly in recent years, especially in Sweden and Denmark, and was expected to continue to grow steadily in all Nordic and Baltic countries.
Problem: The race to decarbonize the construction industry
In order to limit the effects of climate change, the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, as set forth by the Paris Agreement. But buildings are a big contributor, responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions — 28% from operational emissions including heating and cooling, and 11% from materials and construction, according to the World Green Building Council. As a leader in the energy-intensive sector, Kingspan knew it needed to set ambitious goals to drive the industry’s sustainable transformation, while still achieving scalable growth.
Approach: Making onsite solar a cornerstone of its energy strategy
To do so, Kingspan established its Planet Passionate programme, in which it has committed to, among other things, increasing its direct use of renewable energy at manufacturing sites to 60% by 2030. Recognizing the benefits of speedy implementation, lower energy costs, efficient use of rooftop space, onsite solar became a cornerstone of its energy strategy. As such, Kingspan has committed to increasing its onsite generation of renewable energy to 20% and installing solar PV systems on all owned facilities by 2030.
From the onset, Kingspan’s state-of-the-art factory in Stigamo outside Jönköping, Sweden was designed to accommodate onsite solar systems, aligning with its mission to increase its onsite generation of renewable energy and accelerate a transition to net-zero emissions.
“The construction industry has an important role to play in climate change mitigation. At Kingspan, we believe in low-energy buildings for a clean energy future and solar energy is part of that future. Onsite solar was a natural fit for our factory in Stigamo and Alight was a natural fit as a PPA partner.”
— Sören Eliasson, Plant Manager, Kingspan Insulation Sverige
Given the commitments in its Planet Passionate programme, installing rooftop solar on its new facility was an obvious approach for the company. But when it came to financing the system, Kingspan chose a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) over a capital expenditure (capex) model, which meant that Alight (in partnership with Infranode) would build, own and operate the solar PV system and Kingspan would purchase the clean energy directly. It chose a PPA because it wanted a local expert as it expanded into a new market. This would ensure that all legal and regulatory processes were compliant, including the permitting stage, thus reducing risks. A PPA also allowed Kingspan to offset its electricity consumption and reduce Scope 2 emissions while providing a long-term hedge against future electricity prices, all without investing upfront.
Result: One of Sweden’s largest rooftop solar installations
More than a year after the rooftop solar power plant was commissioned, it now provides about 20 percent of the factory’s total electricity requirements and is also one of Sweden’s largest rooftop solar installations.
The solar rooftop installation has an installed capacity of 1310 kWp and produces approximately 1.15 GWh per year, equivalent to meeting the average annual household electricity consumption of 230 single-family homes. When it was completed and began delivery of clean electricity in the summer of 2021, it was the largest BtM (behind-the-meter) corporate PPA in the region.
“A main factor in Kingspan’s successful implementation of onsite solar at its new factory was having a set internal strategy. We often see customers failing to mobilize their own internal organization because they lack a clear approach and target. Having a central team, like Kingspan did, helps to get the ESG specifications, quality requirements and PPA terms right from the beginning and sets you up for success,” said Pascal Olin, Head of Onsite Solar at Alight.