Solar power to further enhance refinery’s award-winning energy efficiency

Business News

Robinson, Illinois, sustainability
A rendering of the planned arrangement of solar panels, which are expected to generate five megawatts of electricity for the refinery during periods of peak sunlight.
  • Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s Robinson, Illinois, refinery is using solar power to build on its sustainability performance already recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The refinery is part of a project to install solar panels on adjacent refinery-owned land that are expected to help power the facility by the end of 2024.
  • The 30-acre solar farm will have the potential each year to avoid consumption of enough electricity from the electric grid to equal the annual energy use of roughly 1,000 homes.

Sunny days are taking on operational significance at Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s (MPC) Robinson, Illinois, refinery where solar panels are soon expected to begin supplying electricity that helps power the site. The refinery is working with solar energy developer Sol Systems to install panels on 30-acres of MPC-owned land that’s adjacent to the refinery.

An aerial view of the refinery’s 30-acre plot of land where solar panels will be installed.

“During periods of peak sunlight, the panels will deliver five megawatts of electricity,” Robinson Engineering Supervisor Corie Biggs said. “Over the course of a year, this could avoid consumption of as much as 11,200 megawatt-hours of electricity from the electric grid, which is equal to the annual energy use of roughly 1,000 homes.”   

Construction is expected to start in early 2024, and commercial operation is anticipated by the end of next year. As project developer, Sol Systems will coordinate the construction and operation of the solar farm, which will provide power to the refinery at a fixed rate for 20 years. After this period, Robinson will have the option of taking over ownership of the system.

A ground-level rendering of the solar farm, which is projected to begin commercial operation by the end of 2024.

This project builds upon sustainability initiatives in recent years that have earned the refinery recognition for its energy efficiency through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program. At the 2022 ENERGY STAR Industrial Partner Meeting, a Robinson steam turbine optimization project was named one of the 12 Top Projects in the U.S. industrial sector. Also last year, Robinson earned its fifth consecutive ENERGY STAR certification with site efficiency in the top 25% of industry peers.

“These achievements reflect the hard work of our teams in continually scrutinizing our refining processes to find ways of further reducing energy use,” said Robinson Refinery General Manager Amy Macak. “The solar farm elevates these efforts as a renewable energy source, expanding our capabilities to maintain environmentally responsible operations going forward.”

Under the project agreement, the Robinson refinery will purchase power from the project developer at a fixed rate for 20 years, then have the option to take ownership of the solar farm.