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Cainiao Taps Rooftop Solar Panels to Power Bonded Warehouses

Published 03-18-22

Submitted by Alibaba Group

A Cainiao bonded warehouse equipped with solar panels. Photo credit: Alibaba Group
A Cainiao bonded warehouse equipped with solar panels. Photo credit: Alibaba Group

Alibaba Group’s logistics arm Cainiao Network has started to use energy generated by rooftop solar panels installed on its bonded warehouses in China to power the operations within.

The two warehouses, located in Hangzhou and Ningbo in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, are the first to adopt renewable energy sources within the bonded zones in China, the platform said in a statement on Thursday. 

“The successful launch of Cainiao’s first warehouse zone with a photovoltaic (PV) power generation system is just the beginning of the sustainable measures that we have planned,” said Sun Beibei, General Manager of Global Supply Chain at Cainiao.

The move comes as the logistics business spearheads a campaign to build up a global green supply chain.

Chinese e-commerce companies were responsible for 53.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019, according to a report from Energy Foundation. This is equivalent to what 10 billion trees can offset in a year, among which logistics accounts for 29%, while warehousing takes up 4%. 

Energy-efficient Operations 

Cainiao has installed the PV power generation systems on 100,000 square meters of warehouse rooftop. They can store 7.862 megawatts of energy, with an annual power output of over 8 million kilowatts hour, enough to power more than 3,000 homes. 

At the bonded warehouse in Hangzhou, the electricity powers energy-efficient operation systems, such as self-adjusting lighting and energy-saving conveyor belts that automatically adjust power consumption based on parcel volume. 

Electricity generated by the solar power system will be sufficient to power Cainiao’s warehouse operations. Any surplus electricity will be diverted for broader use on the grid.

Slashing Carbon Footprint 

Cainiao said solar power could reduce 5,535 tonnes of carbon emission, equivalent to the yearly carbon intake of 700,000 trees.  

“We aim to build an eco-friendly global logistics network for our merchants and brands across the globe to reduce carbon footprints together,” said Sun.  

The move is part of Cainiao’s efforts to build a global green supply chain. It has partnered with international brands like Nestlé to roll out a green supply chain through packaging recycling, smart inventory allocation, and smart packaging algorithm, to name a few measures.

By 2023, Cainiao and its partners expect to install rooftop PV generation systems on Cainiao’s bonded warehouses spanning a combined 500,000 square meters.

More than 5000 brands from 90 countries entered the Chinese market through Cainiao’s bonded warehouses.  

Cainiao aims to establish an industry benchmark on green logistics through the utilization of renewable energy and to promote recycling capabilities, it said in a release.  

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Alibaba Group’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. The company aims to build the future infrastructure of commerce. It envisions that its customers will meet, work and live at Alibaba, and that it will be a good company that lasts for 102 years.

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