Friday, October 26, 2012

GM Increases Solar Energy Commitment With New Investment

GM is now manufacturing electric cars (Chevrolet Volt) and generating electric power to run them.

General Motors, in its growing commitment to solar energy, announced this week a $7.5 million investment in Sunlogics PLC a vertically integrated global solar energy systems provider specializing in solar project development and installation.

GM, through its subsidiary, General Motors Ventures LLC, also signed commercial agreements with Sunlogics for the installation of solar charging canopies at Chevrolet dealerships and GM facilities, as well as a power purchase agreement to install large-scale solar arrays at GM facilities and to purchase the energy they produce.

The investment will create 200 jobs in Detroit as Sunlogics will use some of the funding to establish its corporate headquarters and open a manufacturing facility in suburban Detroit, and to set up a manufacturing facility in Ontario, Canada.

“Global solar energy use is predicted to more than double by 2016, so we believe that investing in renewable energy is a smart and strategic business decision,” said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. “And the Chevrolet solar charging canopy project complements our electrification strategy that started with the Chevrolet Volt by helping our cars live up to their fullest green potential.”

General Motors is most publicly known for its development, manufacture and marketing of the Chevrolet Volt electric car.

Less known is the level of engagement by General Motors in working on and with solar energy initiatives that generate and distribute solar energy electric power for their own facilities, industry and the consumer.

As part the announcement, General Motors committed to double its own solar energy output globally by the end of 2015.

“Our GM facilities currently house 30 megawatts of solar power, and we are committing today to double that capacity to 60 megawatts over the next few years, which is equivalent to powering 10,000 homes annually,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Energy, Environment & Safety Policy. “Not only does renewable energy make good business sense, it helps us continue to reduce the impact our facilities have on the environment.”

GM is the auto industry’s leading user of renewable energy. It currently has several of the largest automotive rooftop solar power installations in the United States.

Those facilities include service parts and operations distribution centers in Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, California where rooftop arrays generate about 1-megawatt at each facility.

At Toledo, Ohio the first phase of a 1.8-megawatt array is now producing power being fed back into that transmission plant.

And In Baltimore, about nine percent of the power requirements for the complex housing GM's two-mode hybrid and heavy duty transmissions manufacturing will be provided by a recently completed 1.23-megawatt roof top solar panel installation.

Currently, in Detroit, GM is constructing a solar panel array in a six acre field adjacent to its Detroit-Hamtramck plant which will provide 516-kilowatts of power or a bit less than 10% of the plant's power needs ongoing. This installation, measured in consumer home usage, would power about 80 homes in the Detroit, Michigan area.

Globally, the largest rooftop solar installation in the world is located at the GM car assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain. The array generates about 12-megawatts at peak output which translates to 15.1 million kilowatts of power annually or enough to power 1,500 Spanish homes.

Just this past month GM announced yet another solar energy array installation in North America to be built at the Detroit area Orion Assembly plant. In this case, the 516 kilowatt installation to be built on two acres adjacent to the plant will be fed back into the area electrical grid as part of a project partnership with DTE Energy.

This "SolarCurrents" pilot program from DTE Energy calls for the installation of solar collection arrays on customer rooftops or properties over the next three years with a goal of adding 15-megawatts of power to the Southeast Michigan grid in the next three years.

GM is looking into the future and working through investment partners like Sunlogics to position itself to increase its use and application of solar energy for both internal and local grid area needs.

“The investment in Sunlogics allows GM to strategically partner with a leading solar developer and operator that can help GM drive the use of solar, specifically large-scale solar installations at our facilities,” Lauckner said. “Sunlogics was the ideal choice because it is a vertically integrated company that has a global footprint.”

Part of the new investment partnership with Sunlogics includes installation of current generation solar charging canopies at Chevrolet dealerships and development of canopy installations that collect solar energy for community, private or consumer located electric car charging stations making them self sustaining and not reliant on a local power network grid.

This new investment with Sunlogics enables GM to build electric cars with electricity they produce as well as provide electricity for them in the consumer grid or directly through electric car charging stations in the community or at the home.


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