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How one South Dakota wind farm signals a new chapter in Cargill’s sustainability story

September 23, 2019

Imagine reducing the emissions of 270,000 cars for an entire year. In 2017, Cargill set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by exactly that much – a 10 percent cut by 2025 against a 2017 baseline.

Clean, renewable energy plays a crucial role in meeting that commitment. When Crocker Wind Farm in South Dakota celebrated its grand opening in August 2019, Cargill took a big step toward meeting that goal.

Using 15 different renewable energy sources around the world – including wind power– Cargill is reducing its operational emissions. That includes both renewable thermal fuels that reduce emissions coming directly from Cargill operations, and renewable power purchases that reduce emissions from the electricity Cargill purchases from the grid.

In the case of Crocker, Cargill is using a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) – a contract that guarantees the wind developer a fixed price for a portion of power the facility will produce.

The energy itself will go to a variety of customers (including some Cargill facilities in the surrounding states), while Cargill receives its share of the renewable energy credits directly from the project for financially securing the development of renewable energy and helping bring clean power to the grid.

This is a widely accepted way for environmentally conscious companies to reduce emissions. Without this participation, the additional wind energy would not have been added to the grid.

Cargill’s global renewable energies team identified this VPPA opportunity last year with Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy, which operates the Crocker farm.

The wind farm is scheduled to begin operations soon and will produce 200 megawatts of clean wind power annually.

“Although this is Cargill’s first VPPA, it won’t be our last,” said Eric Hoegger, global renewables energy manager at Cargill. “Offsite renewables such as the Crocker Wind Farm allow Cargill to achieve our GHG reduction goal in a highly scalable manner. Our roadmap under development includes additional onsite and offsite sustainable energy projects globally. Stay tuned.”