BT Brightens its U.S. HQ with Solar

British Telecom made a major bet on renewable energy last October, saying it planned to invest close to half a billion dollars in wind farms to meet 25 percent of the company’s UK power needs by 2016. Now BT’s clean energy goals are crossing the pond, to its U.S. headquarters. The company said today at a press conference in El Segundo, Calif., where company executives, Prince Andrew Duke of York and the Mayor of El Segundo spoke, that it’s building a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system for its North American HQ.

The solar system, which will be built by solar startup EI Solutions and owned by startup Solar Power Partners, is expected to generate about 917,000 kilowatt hours annually. The 2,000 solar modules that will track the sun in the system, are a sizable installation for a corporation, and at a half a megawatt is a bit smaller than some of the biggest in the world, like Google’s 1.6 megawatt solar installation. BT expects construction to start in March and the system to be fully operational by the summer.

BT is just the latest in the telecom and Internet world to use renewable energy to reduce its energy costs and accrue some green karma. BT says the system will provide for 15 percent of the power used at its HQ, which will reduce its carbon emissions by 642,000 pounds a year.


San Rafael, Calif.-based EI Solutions will build and maintain the solar installation, but the system itself will be owned by Mill Valley, Calif.-based startup Solar Power Partners. BT will then buy the solar power through a power purchase agreement. BT wouldn’t say how much the system would cost or how much it would pay for the power, only that state and federal incentives would provide for 35 percent to 40 percent of the overall costs.

Solar Power Partners is a young company that finances solar installations; it raised a Series A round of $6 million just last October that was led by Globespan Capital Partners. EI Solutions is a little older, founded in 2001 out of Bill Gross’ Idealab, and was responsible for the Google solar installation. Check out the artist rendering of what they expect the system to look like below.