When people think of South Carolina businesses that are good candidates for solar energy solutions, food processing usually isn’t the first industry that comes to mind, and that’s surprising. South Carolina is home to more than 75 food and animal food manufacturing companies in more than 50 cities across the state.

From rice milling to cottonseed and soybean oil processing, wet corn milling, poultry processing and meat packing, companies with household names like Nestle, Pepperidge Farm, Keebler, Kraft, Louis Rich, Perdue, Smithfield and Tyson Foods have facilities in South Carolina. Starbucks built its first Southeast-region roasting and distribution plant in South Carolina and Diamond Pet Foods has a large plant there. More important: food-manufacturing processes require high heat that concentrated solar energy could provide. For example:

Pasteurization – hot steam
Most dairy and other perishable products are pasteurized by heating and cooling them immediately, one after another. This can be accomplished with high-pressure (6 bar) hot steam, which can be easily generated with solar energy.

Drying – hot air
Fruits and vegetables are often dried to remove water to increase product shelf life or to convert them to powder form. The usual drying method is to circulate hot air at temperatures between 110-200°C. Solar heat can easily accommodate this requirement and boost drying rates significantly.

Frying – hot oil
Packed food is sometimes fried at temperatures above 250°C before packaging. The traditional method for heating oil was wood-based fire but more recently, we’re seeing the use of solar heated oil. A concentrated solar thermal system could replace wood fire frying methods and provide temperatures up to 500°C.

Concentrated solar power is a cost-effective alternative for any number of heating applications in the food manufacturing industry. Need more convincing?

  • The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008, while incentives and loan programs have gained traction in just about every state.
  • Changes in South Carolina law is making it more attractive for businesses of all sizes to take advantage of commercial solar solutions.
  • Between federal and state tax incentives, net-metering arrangements with local utilities, and the drastic drop in the average price of a completed commercial photovoltaic project, South Carolina companies can realize a 15% or greater ROI by investing in solar.

See how solar energy can reduce costs, generate additional revenue, and increase your ‘green’ footprint. Call Inman Solar for a free bill analysis.