BMW says its Zentrum Museum in Greenville, SC, is now fully solar powered and includes three electric-vehicle charging stations, marking the German automaker's continued efforts to boost its green credibility.

With help from Southern Energy Management, BMW spent $500,000 to install 400 solar panels that produce 96 kilowatts of energy, or enough to power the half-acre museum and charging stations. The installation is part of a broader effort by BMW to cut its carbon footprint through initiatives that include factory-efficiency improvements and a hydrogen-storage center.

The German automaker is looking to make strides through plant improvements and vehicle electrification. BMW last month recently started offering leases on its Active E electric vehicle in the U.S. That car is launching in markets such as Los Angeles, New York and Boston, and can be leased for $499 a month with a $2,250 down payment.

The company also joins automakers like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors that have made efforts to cut waste and energy usage at their facilities. Ford Motor Co. said late last month that it planned to reduce landfill waste from its Europe plants by 70 percent and cut water use by 30 percent within five years. And General Motors said last month in its first sustainability report since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009 that more than 80 of its factories produce no landfill materials.
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BMW Adds Solar to Alternative Energy Portfolio

Solar Energy Powers Zentrum Museum and Electric Vehicle (EV) Stations

Spartanburg, S.C. – February 2, 2012... BMW Manufacturing has completed the installation and commissioning of solar panels that are providing solar energy to fully power the 24,000 square foot Zentrum Museum, the plant's heritage museum and visitors center. In addition to the new solar panels, the plant also installed three new electric vehicle charging stations throughout the main facility.

"Adding a new, alternative energy platform to our energy portfolio is another step in our commitment to sustainable methods of generating power at our factory," said Duncan Seaman, Department Manager, Market Operations USA & Canada. "It is the perfect complement to our existing landfill gas-to-energy and hydrogen fuel cell program and offsets the fossil fuel requirements otherwise needed to run our facility."

Installation of 400 solar modules, each capable of producing 240 watts of energy, now provides power to the Zentrum Museum, as well as, the new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The solar panels, completed in partnership with Southern Energy Management, were installed in front of the Zentrum Museum parallel to Interstate 85. BMW invested $500,000 in this installation. Southern Energy Management is headquartered in Morrisville, NC with a regional office in Greenville, South Carolina. SunStore Solar also served as a consultant to BMW on this project.

Since 2003, methane gas has been collected, cleaned and compressed from a local landfill and used to power more than 50% of the BMW plant's total energy requirements. In 2009, the company invested $12 million in its landfill gas program to further improve overall efficiency. Implementation of the program has reduced CO2 emissions by about 92,000 tons per year and saves about $5 million annually in energy costs. More recently, the company announced the addition of a hydrogen storage and distribution center within their on-site 11 Megawatt Energy Center to facilitate on-site fueling of a hydrogen-fuel cell material handling fleet inside the 1.2 million square foot assembly plant that completes final assembly of the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle.

BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC
BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC is a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich, Germany and is the global producer of the BMW X3 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupe. In addition to the South Carolina manufacturing facility, BMW Group North American subsidiaries include sales, marketing and financial services operations in the United States, Canada and throughout Latin America; and a design firm and technology office in California. For more information on BMW Manufacturing, visit www.bmwusfactory.com.

BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group's global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 339 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 110 MINI passenger car dealers, and 36 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group's sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Information about BMW Group products is available to consumers via the Internet at: www.bmwgroupna.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      They prepare themself for fueling hydrogen fuelcell cars with hydrogen made from the sun. This can be made for normal ice cars too if someone start to sale convertion kit and i would be interrested to buy. It is easier to do hydrogen with solar then to recharge bev because with hydrogen the car don't have to be plug when there is sun, just the need to do some hydrogen before needing it so you build a reserve.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Pretty much every utility is more than happy to allow people to use the grid as a 'battery' since they want more power production during the day peak and they have excess power over-night when EVs are charged.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      maybe make some electric cars at some point too
      Dave D
      • 2 Years Ago
      I found the solar incidence for Atlanta at 4.74 (http://www.georgiapower.com/spotlightsolar/solar_potential.asp) and it is in the same band on this map and about the same latitude so good enough for gov't work). Using this figure: Cost kW $/kW kW/yr $/kW (assuming 25yr life span) $500k 96 $5,208 166,090 $0.12 That is some fairly expensive electricity by the commercial rates they usually get, and it would still take a 25 year payback period. I'm a solar supporter, but that is discouraging. And it ignores maintenance costs unless those are built into the contract??? To compare, I found another local project at the Chattanooga Airport for a comparison: Cost kW $/kW kW/yr $/kW (assuming 25yr life span) $4.3M 1,100 $3,909 1,903,110 $0.09 So that means it's a decent representation of commercial solar prices right now. And that first phase of the Chattanooga farm just came on line in December so it is VERY recent. Also, not from this article...they are going to sell it back to the grid for $100,000/yr so they are being PAID at $0.19/kWh. Not sure how they worked that deal, but I guess the local utility decided it saved them enough captial cost during peak times that it was worth it. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/24/chattanooga-airport-wants-to-double-solar-farm/
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave D
        Yeah, $0.12/KWH is not a good price. They did overpay a bit. But 100% of that power is generated during peak hours, so it is more valuable than electricity generated in the middle of the night. And BMW is a retail consumer, so they probably pay something around that rate. Certainly this project is no money-maker for them . . . but it is not a big money-loser either.
        Dave D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave D
        Also, sorry for splitting the discussion. I was originally trying to reply to Jens, but apparently when I refreshed the page to look at another post, it took me up to start a new thread. Sigh.
        Dave D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave D
        Wow, the formatting doesn't work worth a damn....sorry it's so hard to read. Let's try it this way: BMW South Carolina installation: Cost: $500k kW: 96 $/kW: $5,208 kWh/yr: 166,090 $/kWh (over 25 years): $0.12 Chattanooga Airport: Cost: $4.3M kW: 1,100 $/kW: $3,909 kWh/yr: 1,903,110 $/kWh (over 25 years): $0.09
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave D
        How can I figure this stuff out for my city?
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      The BMW plant and the Zentrum Museum are a great place to visit. There's also the driving track to enjoy...
      JeremyD
      • 2 Years Ago
      Pretty easy to calculate accurate ROI: Check thermal insulation in average hours of sunlight for your area: http://www.freesunpower.com/radiation.php eg: 5.5 hrs/day Multiply that by peak panel performance: eg: 5.5 * 240W = 1320W/day Multiply that by number of panels: eg: 1.320kW * 32/panels = 42.24kWh /day acg. (7.68kW system) Multiply that by cost per kWh: 42.24kWh * 0.11 = $4.65/day Divide total out-of-pocket $ cost of the system by $4.65 eg: $14000 / 4.65 = 3010/days That's ROI in 3010 days or 8.25 years... everything after that is gravy, and assuming you used micro-inverters with the same 25 year warranty as your panels, you should be set for at least 25 years.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm surprised BMW did not offer the Active E in Geenville.
      Jens Kr. Kirkebø
      How did they manage to spend $500k ? The panels alone should be no more than $160k, 8 Fronius 12kWH inverters is about $40k. Mounts, cables & installation should not be anywhere near $300k...
        JeremyD
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jens Kr. Kirkebø
        I agree, they got taken to the cleaners on that install! Wow, should have been no more than half that!
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jens Kr. Kirkebø
        Meh. $5/watt installed for a big commercial project is not bad. Getting permits, transmission wires, labor, physical support infrastructure, grid interconnect, and other things do not come for free. There is a lot more to these projects than just the raw materials.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jens Kr. Kirkebø
        The ~$5300kw nominal this costs is about par for the other contracts for commercial installations I have seen, and for residential where the subsidy is included and the customer did not do self install. Note that this is at ground level, so both installation and maintenance will be easier than on a roof.
          Dave D
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I was a little confused when I first started trying to do the calculations. It seemed like everything I saw was using a single solar panel, a square meter and a "kW" of solar panels interchangeably. Turns out that "every square meter of the earth's surface, when exposed to direct sunlight, receives about 1000 watts (1 kilowatt)" http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/solarenergy.aspx So this is a happy coincidence that 1 square meter happens to get hit by about 1kW of energy from the sun. When they give those "insolation" numbers, they've already taken into account the lattitued, avg cloud cover, darkness, etc, etc etc. They give you kind of a "multiplication factor" so you can say: "a 1 kW rated solar panel in Atlanta will produce ~4.74kWh of energy during an avg day. " That is how I applied it to my calculations. If I'm doing it wrong, someone please feel free to correct it. If it's correct, then it takes all the guess work out of allowing for other factors and let's you get a good, quick estimate.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          It works out at the latitude of South Carolina to something like a cool $35k per kilowatt of actual average power generated. I think BMW buyers should ask for a discount for NOT having any messing around with ludicrously expensive renewables in the production of their cars.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Don't you then have to take the efficiency of the PV into account? As per your link: "With an average efficiency of 15 percent, a square yard of solar photovoltaic cells (PV) would produce (5 kilowatt-hours of solar energy multiplied by 15% =) .75 kilowatt-hours of electric energy per day. Solar panels (PV) covering an area ten yards by ten yards (100 square yards or 900 square feet) would produce 100 x .75 = 75 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day." Which is what DaveMart was pointing out, right? He's not saying solar is useless, he's just pointing out how expensive it actually is when you look at how much electricity is actually produced. Seems like ya'll solar experts would have a better handle on this, or that the article would report not the nominal capacity alone, but the actual generation numbers as well. I suppose that latter figure would have to be analyzed after a year to get an average daily generation figure...
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          " $35k per kilowatt " That number smells of bovine feces.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Both Dave D and Dave Mart are figuring about $5,000 per kW. Dave Mart, if I'm following correctly, is further adjusting his number to reflect that the panels will not be supplying their nominal power at night, or on days with poor conditions. Greenville has an average of 144 "cloudy" days per year (as a former resident, that seems right to my experience there). I applaud BMW for making this effort. Combined with their Fuel Cell usage, they are really leading the area in terms of developing alternative energy and reducing their emissions. Not everything they do will pay off in terms of saving money, but it still is a good direction to be heading. Much of the power in the area comes from nuclear and hydro, BTW. http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/nuclear/state_profiles/south_carolina/sc.html
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DaveMart What are you comparing your numbers against anyway to call it expensive? The cost to build a comparable coal plant? If so, you do realize that the solar plant get 100% free sunshine for its entire life while the coal plant needs to pay heavy fees for fuel and maintenance, right?
          Dave D
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          LTAW, I thought so at first as well....still not sure. But I think the way they rate it is by the output of the solar panel. So if it's a "1 kW panel" then they've already taken into account that it's only 15% efficient so you're really dealing with a much larger than 1 sq meter panel I guess. So a 1 kW panel would really be more like 6.7 sq meters. Then you would multiply that by the solar insolation factor. If we were trying to figure out the size of a panel needed, then you would definitely have to take my original calculations and multiply by ~15-20% or whatever the efficiency is to get a larger panel for that 1kW. I'm clearly learning here on the fly so I could be wrong and I will gladly listen if someone is an expert here. I'm trying to find an actual installation with numbers available to see if my assumptions are wrong.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Spec: Do check your figures before talking nonsense. if the facts upset your prejudices, the best idea is to recheck your assumptions, not go into denial. For the latitude and cloud cover of South Carolina I used 15% capacity factor which at $5,300kw nominal comes out to around £35 kw of average output. Here are the solar insolation figures for Columbia, South Carolina: http://www.gaisma.com/en/location/columbia-south-carolina.html Adding the number of hours per month together over the year and dividing my 12 and then 24 the average solar incidence comes to 17.8% That is fine if it were in a desert region, but in South Carolina cloud cover is substantial, and those are crystalline silicon, which drops to near zero when there is cloud cover, hence my approximation of 15% Use 16% if you prefer though, and it costs only $33k kw actual average energy generated. At 17% it would be $31k. At 18% ie if Carolina never had a cloud then you come to $29k. Ridiculously expensive in any case, and another instance of innumerate faddists placing costs on everyone else. It pays to research before you post and declaim what is what.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DaveMart Dave D rechecked your figures, check them out. And indeed your figures are complete bunk. Do you actually think that when there are some clouds that PV systems generate zero output? You really don't understand the way these things work. Your irrational hatred of PV is very overblown. PV is expensive . . . but not stupid expensive as you seem to have convinced yourself.
          JeremyD
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Another problem solar equipment market has to overcome, installation gouging. Seems to be the norm too. Jens numbers are close to what I came up with... so $300k for the install. Rip-off.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Letstakeawalk Yeah, I think I'm now seeing where the disconnect is. Yeah, solar systems only generate power during the day. Coal plants only generate power when given coal . . . that doesn't mean coal plants are useless. I guess I don't understand the point of the statistic he is citing.
        Dave D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jens Kr. Kirkebø
        I was wondering about that. It seems a bit high compared to other commercial installations I've seen and this gives them a payback of at least 25 years at 11 cents per kWh and I'm sure they get electricity much cheaper than that.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      With China building coal plants (essentially creating a new Great Britain every week or so), I am not sure about the benefit of a lack of carbon, but reducing the land fill material is pretty cool. Of course, if the solar panels pay for themselves, then that is a 2-fer... (Marco/PR - do you know the exact figure on Chinese expansion and creating a new 'Great Britain' in carbon production? I knew the correct time a few weeks ago, but forgot...)
        marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        @Ezee, You are substantially correct. Although, the PRC claims it's also closing down some older, less efficient plants. Over a 9 year period, the PRC will complete a minimum of 851 giant coal-fired power plants. Although it's difficult to rely on PRC official statements, the size and number of these installations can be confirmed by PRC coal contract futures. Ironically, PRC's largest hydro project, the Three Gorges Dam, allows coal ships from Australia to travel 1,500 miles (2,400 km) upstream from Shanghai all the way to inland city of Chongqing! By some estimates, the total energy consummation/pollution of the PRC could treble the total planet's use/emissions within 10 years Much of the highly publicised PRC funding for Solar installations and other alternate energy developments have been quietly diverted to the PLA's giant Bio-fuel developments in Western China.
        Mark Schaffer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        What is the current rate of build out in China EZEE? Not your off the cuff comment but the actual numbers?
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        'With China building coal plants (essentially creating a new Great Britain every week or so),' You are confusing weeks with year. I don't intend to do your research for you so I suggest you look on Google to get some sensible figures. Why embarrass yourself? And why post nonsense due to laziness?
      EJ
      • 2 Years Ago
      As my neighbor is a solar engineer, I was aware of this project as well as a few other very prominent large scale installations in the SE. Solar is now to the point that large scale public facilities and manufacturing are realizing how quickly the arrays pay for themselves. It won't be long before I can taste the delicious irony of people driving ICE vehicles made in a solar power plant...
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EJ
        The Boeing plant in Charleston has also installed a massive amount of solar PV. "The 2.6 megawatt system is made up of more than 18,000 thin-film photovoltaic solar laminates that cover 10 acres on the roof of the 14-acre building." http://www.charlestonbusiness.com/news/41866-sce-amp-g-completes-boeing-rsquo-s-solar-rooftop-project
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Obviously good news, but I'd be much happier with BMW dropping the over-powered cars and start building efficient vehicles.. In this day and age, few need anything over 200hp really.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Obviously, radical right wing extremist that I am, I don't care to dictate what people 'need' or 'want' (in fairness to you, you didn't say, "require" or "law"), however, the horsepower wars seem to be getting out of hand. It wasn't that long ago that the Lincoln Navigator was the 'most powerful SUV on the planet' - with all of 300 horsepower! Now, V6's have 300 hp in midsized cars, and the Mustang has a version with 650 hp. My Fusion has 165hp with a 4 cylinder and gets 31mpg combined (yay!) whereas my 2000 Ranger has 145hp in a V6, with 21 mpg combined (meh). Obviously the Ranger is shaped like a Brick (Dan does not approve), but....wow.
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