• May 12, 2011
General Motors, along with DTE Energy, will install a 516-kilowatt solar array at Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant – home of the Chevrolet Volt. The array, hailed by GM as the largest in southeast Michigan, will generate enough electricity to charge 150 Volts per day or 54,750 Volts a year. The 264,000-square-foot project is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

Bob Ferguson, GM's vice president of public policy, said that the company is:
combining solar power with ongoing efficiency tactics such as lighting and equipment upgrades and automating equipment shut-down. 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 project, which calls for the install of enough photovoltaic systems throughout southeast Michigan to generate at least 15 megawatts of electricity. DTE is investing $3 million into the array at Detroit-Hamtramck, which will take a lot of $15,000 years to make back.

[Source: General Motors]
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Solar Field to Power Chevrolet Volt Assembly Plant
GM and DTE Energy will install array at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly


2011-05-11

DETROIT – The largest photovoltaic solar array in Southeast Michigan will be built at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, turning sunlight into electricity to help power the home of the Chevrolet Volt electric car.

The 516-kilowatt project, announced Wednesday by GM and DTE Energy, will generate electricity capable of charging 150 of the electric cars with extended-range capability every day for a year – 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 the facility approximately $15,000 per year over the 20-year easement agreement. The Detroit-Hamtramck facility was chosen because it has available space for the array and because it is home to the Volt.

"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 that calls for enough photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer property or rooftops during the next five years to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout Southeast Michigan. DTE is investing $3 million in the array at Detroit-Hamtramck.

"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."

DTE Energy and GM will build the array on a six-acre tract of land located on the south side of the plant. This placement allows it to face true South to maximize solar output.

The array will complement other green activities at the plant, which was recently named a Michigan Clean Corporate Citizen for its commitment to the environment. Environmentalism is evident by a 16.5 acre certified wildlife habitat on the site and the voluntary installation of an oxidizer that greatly reduces the amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide released into the atmosphere. In addition, efficient lighting upgrades and other energy efficiency projects will save the plant nearly $3 million per year in energy costs.

GM is one of the leading users of renewable energy in the manufacturing sector, deriving energy for manufacturing operations from solar, hydro, and landfill gas resources. In the United States alone, 1.4 percent of GM energy consumption comes from renewable resources.

"We strive to reduce the impact our facilities have on the environment, and Detroit-Hamtramck continues to make progress in sustainability," said Ferguson.

About General Motors

General Motors (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 202,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 30 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.

About DTE Energy

DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include DTE Energy, an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on gas storage and pipelines, unconventional gas production, power and industrial projects, and energy trading. Information about DTE Energy is available at dteenergy.com and at twitter.com/dte_energy.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      IF they were in the South....they'd get their $ back a lot faster.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Someone slipped a decimal in that cost savings number. It's more like $150,000. Do the math.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is nice to see solar panels generating power for EVs, but I think the better solution would have been to install 5-20 kW systems on 50-80 dealerships across the country. You could get different local incentives and energy rates, it would be distributed so some of them would be operating in clear weather. The local dealerships may have matched it, so there could be twice the amount. It also helps solve the lack of chargers. They could setup chargers outside for Volt users to use for free, and other users to pay ~$5-$10 to use for a few hours (which would go towards installing more, bring down costs, and offsetting energy expenses). Plus, it would be a great time to talk to them about new cars.
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        If GM put together the parts with DTE in a nice package, they could offer a solar system + charger as an option when they sell you a car. If the dealer contracts out the electrical install work, deals with the local regulations, and handles contacting the local power company, gets the bank to offer home improvement loans, it would make the process of installing solar profitable for GM, brings jobs to the construction industry, and makes it easy for the owner.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      you can buy the solar cells for that power on ebay for 180k. then you have to make panels, mounts and electronics for them but still.
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        If you buy panels pre-built, a 'good' price would be $1,075,000 for the panels (I paid close to $2000/kW for my system, not including inverter and anything but the panels) . The inverters, disconnects, and other equipment is probably another $1 million, labor and electrical tie-in is probably $600,000 overhead might be $400,000...
          Ford Future
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ryan
          There are new panels coming to market that will produce electricity, and also heat your hot water system, as these panels get plenty hot, which ramps up the efficiency, and the profit.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ryan
          I'm not sure that 6x the cell cost is a good price.. call me crazy but I feel that the costly stuff should be the cells, not a bit of glass, glue and wire. since noone seems to be making panels at a good price then GM could have put a couple of guys on developing a simple assembly line and hire a couple of workers. 2.8$m buys a lot. they could spin it into a large business while they're at it, be profitable and equip 5 plants instead of 1 for the same money.
      dreadcthulhu01
      • 3 Years Ago
      Solar power makes little sense in Michigan, given how far north it is and all the snow they get during the winter. And even if that panel worked at full efficiency, spending $5,813 per kilowatt generated is a bad deal. A nuclear plant would be cheaper (for the amount of power generated), and would actually work at night, or during the winter. Of course, you can't (economically) make a nuclear reactor that small, but a larger one could not only power the factory, but allow hundreds of thousands of Volts to charge at night, while the owners sleep.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dreadcthulhu01
        Nuclear power has the possibility of catastrophic failure, especially with terrorist attacks. Plus, the incompetence of US and Japanese Management to spend the money necessary to MOVE the spent fuel cooling rods to a save locaion [ Not the Roof ] means Nuclear should die yesterday. I was for thorium reactors, but look at the Management Failure Worldwide. We can't trust these guys to manage a McDonald's successfully. New solar panels that also generate heat coming to market with no catastrophic failure risk.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dreadcthulhu01
        You'd be surprised at how well a solar install can generate power in such a climate. We have lots of solar here in Portland, OR. and we are about as northern as Detroit is. Yeah, the middle of winter is always very lackadaisical for solar installations here. But otherwise, if you oversize it, you can generate enough. Here is an example of a company in the Eugene, OR. area. http://live.deckmonitoring.com/?id=springfieldcreamery
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Same problem with the Ford solar installation. The majority of the funds to pay for this are taxpayer money. GM is getting a free ride too. If i lived in Michigan, i would be pretty pissed that my government just handed over $3 million without my consent to a big corp so that they can save money. I'm all for green energy and all that but there is a line that must be drawn.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        You get cleaner air to breathe, fewer cases of childhood asthma, local jobs stimulus, and downward pressure on the price of solar panels for the rest of us. Reducing carbon in the atmosphere has been shown to be cost effective time and again. Obviously a good investment for taxpayers over the long term (and on terms that are not even that long). How much is your government doling out to the most profitable, wealthiest corporations in the history of the earth to 'help' bring oil to market? That's a totally different matter, and truly worth getting pissed about.
          Marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          I agree, it's not only beneficial, but a wise investment for the taxpayer to help produce an attractive environment for private investment. However, the idea that oil companies are the most profitable corporations in history is completely erroneous. The demonising of oil companies always ignores the enormous risks, losses and vast capital investment requirements of the oil industry. In reality, successful dot.com, IP and software corporations are vastly more profitable.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Sure sure, but here's the thing, the taxpayer puts money in and GM and Ford get about 2-3 million dollars out of the deal because they get a return on their investment during the last 5-15 years of the solar panels' lives. I am not for oil subsidies either. In fact, i am against subsidizing everything.. it is meddling and just makes things more complex and more expensive to administer. If we stopped subsidizing oil, alternative energy would look REAL good. There is a company in Oregon who leases you the solar panels and you pay them like you would pay the electric company; same rate. At the end of the lease, you keep the panels and reap the last 5-15 years of payoff. This is the kind of deal big corps should get; then GM/Ford benefit in the long run, and the taxpayer ultimately pays nothing for it to happen. AND the taxpayer gets the benefit of cleaner air too. Makes sense to me. I don't think anyone would oppose that.
          Nick
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @marcopolo Solar has limitations? If it's installed in areas with little sunshine, sure. In the dry and hot South, solar makes excellent sense economically, and could power the entire nation.
          Marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @ fordinsight. We get it! You really, really like Solar power! That's great! However, the world isn't going to end tomorrow. These will not be a catastrophic Apocalypse not matter how exciting that might be, (especially with James Cameron directing). The world will trundle on, the oil companies will not be forced to do anything, except produce oil, (and profits), the economies of the world will adapt and change to the new resource reality, (nuclear will play a large part) etc, etc.. This is economic reality, not very exciting, but real. Solar like wind and other alternate energy generation have limitations. EV transport will inevitably replace ICE, (while developing better energy storage facilities), not for any wild-eyed moral, save-the-planet, type reason, but because it's the most economic and convenient technology, to replace fossil fuels for road transport. Keep advocating Solar, but remember solar power has limitations. Just wishing something works, isn't the same as it actually working.
          Ford Future
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I'm for Any State Action to Stop Global Warming/Climate Change Today. Scientists were talking about multi-year La Nina's in 2008, well we've got the whole state of TEXAS in Extreme Drought Conditions Today, while in the middle of a Multi-Year La Nina, just as predicted. The oil industry made $60 Billion in profit this quarter. They should be spending 1/2 of their profits Transitioning into Clean Energy Today, we are in the middle of a Climate Change Disaster Now.
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