Varian Semiconductor Equipment Assoc. Inc. – Gloucester, MA - Case Study


Courtesy of Boreal Renewable Energy Development

Producing the heavy equipment that makes semiconductors and other chips demands a tremendous amount of electricity, so this publicly-traded company sought ways to cut massive utility bills and pursue renewable power sources. Varian Semiconductor Equipment, a division of Applied Materials Inc., is located in an industrial park in Gloucester, MA. The Cape Ann hilltop location offered prospects for utility-scale wind turbines. In 2005, company officials studied the potential for two turbines that would reduce carbon emissions, reduce industrial stress on the regional electric grid, and secure a competitive advantage for office and manufacturing facilities that employ nearly 2,000 people.

Client Need:

Company officials engaged Boreal to perform a feasibility study that examined the site along with local electric demand, estimated growth and capacity issues. Varian Semiconductor also relied on Boreal to pursue grants and support from local economic development officials and analysis of economic payback. After securing regulatory approvals, Boreal selected the turbine equipment and oversaw the procurement process – estimated at ~$7 million - from start of construction to the start of electric generation:

  • turbine procurement,
  • selection and oversight of construction firms,
  • interconnection with the utility,
  • complex metering arrangements,
  • handling renewable energy certificates.

Solution: Wind Feasibility Arrow Design/Build Arrow Construction/Installation

Boreal lead the wind feasibility study, using computer modeling tools to predict wind patterns and directions, and evaluated site and equipment options. Varian Semiconductor chose a 2.5 MW turbine manufactured by Kenersys, and Boreal obtained necessary clearances from local, state, and federal agencies. Over the course of the project, Boreal collaborated with more than a dozen firms from feasibility study through operation, including electrical, civil and geotechnical engineers, legal counsel and construction companies.


Boreal helped Varian Semiconductor obtain over $300,000 in federal and state grants for this project and calculated a financial payback of less than five years from its in-service date. It will supply about 34% of Varian’s electricity use, reducing the amount of electricity supplied by National Grid and related costs. Varian will use 99% of the power generated by the turbine on-site. It is expected the 2.5 MW turbine’s renewable electricity will result in approximately a 4,900 tons/yr reduction in CO2 emissions, greatly reducing Varian’s carbon footprint.

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