General Motors (GM) is in full production on the Chevrolet Volt, a flex-fuel electric car (FFV-EV). Since the Volt is more “sustainable” the company is also looking at ways to produce the vehicle in more sustainable ways as well. GM is currently in the process of installing the largest photovoltaic solar (PV) array in Southeast Michigan at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. The project is a partnership between GM and DTE Energy and will total 516-kilowatts – enough electricity to charge 150 EVs with extended-range capability each day for one year- for a total of 54,750 Volts.
The 264,000 square-foot project is expected to be completed at the end of the summer and will save an estimated $15,000 per year over the 20-year agreement. DTE Energy and GM will build the array on a six-acre tract of land located on the south side of the plant to maximize output.
“This array will significantly decrease energy consumption by combining solar power with ongoing efficiency tactics such as lighting and equipment upgrades and automating equipment shut-down,” said Bob Ferguson, vice president of GM Public Policy. “Making sustainable choices is good for both the environment and our bottom line. Obviously cost savings is critical for GM, and the ability to save $15,000 per year while being environmental serves us well.”
The Detroit-Hamtramck installation is part of DTE Energy’s SolarCurrents pilot. The goal of the program is to install 15 megawatts of electricity from solar over the next five years and as of May 5, 2011, already achieved its goal. DTE is investing $3 million in the array at the Volt assembly plant.
“Our partnership with GM is another example of how our companies work to build a more energy-efficient and sustainable future,” said Trevor Lauer, Detroit Edison vice president, Marketing & Renewables. “Our SolarCurrents program was designed to increase the demand for renewable technologies in Michigan, and it is our hope that installations like this one do exactly that.”
GM is one of the leading users of renewable energy in the manufacturing sector and uses solar, hydro and landfill gas resources to generate electricity at various plants. In the U.S. 1.4 percent of GM’s energy consumption comes from renewable energy.