General Motors will have the largest solar array in the state of Ohio when it completes a rooftop solar-energy system at its Toledo transmission factory in November. The array will deliver 1.8 megawatts of power from 21,000 panels that will supply about three percent of the factory's power use and is equal to the power used by about 200 typical US homes.

GM has gradually been adding solar farms to its factories during the past few years as part of a larger effort to cut its overall carbon footprint. In July 2012, the company built a 350-kilowatt solar array at its its Orion factory, about 40 miles north of Detroit. And in 2011, GM invested $7.5 million for an undisclosed stake in solar-energy systems provider Sunlogics. All told, GM's solar arrays will produce more than 40 megawatts of solar power globally, and the automaker has said it's looking to produce 60 megawatts of energy via solar power by 2015.

Additionally, GM has about 100 facilities worldwide, including 45 in North America, that recycle or reuse all waste. In August, the company added one factory in Thailand and a proving ground in South Korea to a list of waste-free plants. Check out GM's press release below.
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GM Announces 1.8 Megawatt Solar Project in Ohio

More than 40 MW of solar globally by end of 2013

DETROIT – General Motors announced today that a 1.8-megawatt rooftop solar array at its Toledo Transmission plant in Ohio would be completed next month.

The project, which will generate nearly 3 percent of the plant's overall electricity consumption, will be the largest rooftop array in Ohio. The energy produced will be enough to power 200 homes in the United States.

"Having 21,000 solar panels on Toledo's roof is a great visual representation of our commitment to renewable energy," said Rob Threlkeld, GM manager of renewable energy. "It proves to our employees and the people who live in and around Toledo that clean energy plays a significant role in the building of our vehicles."

Separately, GM was also recognized today by the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA, as a "Solar Champion" at its annual awards luncheon at Solar Power International 2013 in Chicago. The award recognizes companies that significantly impact establishment of a strong solar industry in America.

"General Motors is already recognized as a worldwide leader in everything from innovation to corporate responsibility. Now it is helping to lead the way in the use of clean, affordable solar energy nationwide," said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. "We're especially pleased with the 1.8 MW array in Toledo. This will be a boost to the company and protect our environment."

By the end of 2013, GM will have more than 40 megawatts of solar energy installed at its facilities globally, with two of the five largest rooftop solar arrays in the world located at its Opel Rüsselsheim facility in Germany and its Zaragoza Assembly plant in Spain.

GM's global solar footprint is equivalent to the size of 100 American football fields.

"Rolling more solar into our manufacturing process is not only good for the planet, but it provides a boon for our bottom line, as well," said Threlkeld, referring to avoided energy costs.

Additionally, nine GM facilities have solar EV charging canopies on their grounds that employees and visitors can use to charge electric vehicles.

General Motors has 395 workplace charging stations at facilities across the United States, and has provided 4,300 EV charging stations to dealers.

For more information on GM's environmental commitment, visit its sustainability report and environmental blog.

About General Motors Co.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let's see, 1.8 MW is 1800 kW divided by 21,000 panels which gives 85 watt panels. I presume they are talking about the instantaneous output at a light intensity of one full sun. They say that is enough for about 200 homes. 1800/200 homes equals 9kW, which I think is wrong here, in that the typical home uses about 9 or 10 kWhrs per day, not kW. So the array is 1800 kW times 5 hours ( I think that's fair estimate since it assumes really some lesser than full sun times over probably a longer actual production time) the array can generate more like 9000 kWhrs per day, which is enough for about 900 houses. You see kW is a power unit, not an energy unit. I think you guys are either catching on to Danny or you missed the point. This is GM doing a PR stunt to suggest they are environmentally friendly. There was supposed to be outrage at either the use of solar because it's some politically correct nanny state socialists mumbo jumbo, or anger that GM would do this PR stunt while they continue to stiffle the EVs which potentially would have a far larger environmental impact than a small solar array. Which I think is true. The later one that is.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        85 watt panels? . . . those pretty small. Well that picture can't be right. Perhaps it is a thin-film installation? Most panels are over 200 watts these days.
          JB
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          I was thinking the same thing. 85 watts is low for a module. I don't know if they are physically small or just low efficiency China specials. There are plenty of thin film stuff that have double the output per module.
      Neil Blanchard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sounds like they need a lot more solar PV in Ohio. There are several 5MW+ installations here in MA, and the total installed capacity is closing in on 750MW.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      My 6.1KW system has been happily chugging away providing all the electricity for both my house & electric car. In fact I've banked up 400KWH of excess that should help defray the less sunny winter months. And considering it didn't officially start operation until the very end of September, I missed the key summer months. Solar PV really does work. And the PV panels are really cheap. It is the installation where the big bucks are. If you have some DIY skills, I HIGHLY recommend it as DIY home project because it is not very hard and is an amazingly safe and profitable investment. As EZEE would say . . . I don't take no Ph.d.
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Spec, it is clear that your rooftop 6.1 KW solar array and advocacy for residential roof top solar is a pr stunt and you are working to keep the county addicted to coal. You bast..d!
          EZEE
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @spec Typing on an unseasonably cold morning... ;-) With anything, we can all do stuff to 'feel good' about saving the world, but wide spread acceptance of anything comes when it performs as good, or better, than the technology it replaces. One can advocate for electric vehicles, but the adoption rate of something that goes 1/4 the distance, and costs more, will be low. Now the good news is, in the case of your solar panels, I am assuming you have either a $0 or close to zero electric bill, correct? Now, translate that over to me (since that is what it's all about). I do not have a gas bill (house is not equipped), so my electric bill ranges from $150 - $200 a month. It had been higher, but I put in a high efficiency, multi speed, Hal-9000 heat pump. So in my case (again, what it is all about), then we are looking at 5-7 year payoff. And, the price you quoted was less than what I got in a bonus for being named employee of the year. This is where the 'advocacy' thing works. Telling people, 'here, drive a leaf and eat tofu' isn't much fun for most people, as tofu doesn't taste as good as barbecue baby back ribs and gives people mad gas, and the leaf goes 80 miles. Here, you can market to everyone on purely the investment side. Now if you want to hit the greenies with 'save the planet dude' you certainly can, as you can hit the right wingers with, 'when the whole system crashes, sure, your guns will protect you, but, what about electricity? You will need lights to shine on the hippies so you can shoot them as they try to rush your farm since they didn't believe this stuff and now you have the food and they don't so get off my lawn! (Channeled grand Torino there for a moment ). In both cases you generate a few extra sales (be sure to hide your Obama sticker when dealing with the right wingers, and for god sake, use hand sanitizer after the hippies leave), but since the system pays for itself after a short period of time, it will simply pay for itself.
          Spec
          • 18 Hours Ago
          Zero? I actually have a negative electric bill. We'll see how well it goes as the days get shorter . . . but I'll probably make up any shortage next summer. For now, I've banked up a credit of 440KWH. BTW, the system doesn't generate any power if the grid goes out. It is grid-tied system only. You can build systems with batteries that can work if the power goes out but that makes the systems much more complex, much more expensive, add maintenance issues due to the batteries and generally seems pointless for the few hours of power outage during the year. But if you live in a remote place I guess it could be worth it.
          Spec
          • 18 Hours Ago
          ;-) I'm thinking of creating a web-site advocating for more people to self-install. I know it is beyond the capabilities of most people. But there are tens of thousands of electricians, electrical engineers, DIYers, and others that can EASILY self-install solar. Especially with microinverters. It is a great investment . . . especially if you get a plug-in car. Even for people that (foolishly) deny climate change . . . who doesn't like a great investment?
        EZEE
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Good job on the system, btw! Mind me asking how much it cost?
          Spec
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          I've been saying $12K but after going back and looking at it, it looks more like $13K. It can be done cheaper if you use a centralized inverter but I went with microinverters due to some shading issues and it simplifies the design since you don't have to worry about high voltage DC lines. https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/pv/public_systems/cJJW236576
          Spec
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          Well, at least get some new price quotes. The price of panels plummeted over the past few years. Here is a site that monitors equipment costs. This section shows various 'kits': http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/surveys/solar-power-kits-price-survey/
          EZEE
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          Wow! It was maybe 3 years ago I went to a company that does this (this was for work, but I a,see, since I was curious) and they told me $30k - $50k. I live in florid on a golf course and have great sun on the golf course side. Hmmmmm....wonder if any of those golf ers would break my sh*t if I had it installed....?
      Ziv
      • 1 Year Ago
      Forgive the tangential post, but if my condo is 1500 feet wide east to west, and 180 feet deep, north to south, how many MW would a PPS probably generate? I figure 20% of the 1500 * 180 = 270,000 ft^2 = 54,000 is taken by the elevator tower and other roof mounted gear that the solar array would have to work around. And you would need walking space for servicing it, so worst case is (270k-54k) * .33 = 90k ft^2 for a solar array. It is 100 feet up so there is no light blockage by foliage. How much electricity would an array of that size generate on average in the DC metropolitan area. The SUNY/NREL study says that the potential is in the area of 4.55 kWh daily per m^2 for DC. So 90,000 sf is = 8,361 m^2 * 4.55 = 38,000 kWh per day potential * 0.2 efficiency for 7.6 MW? Again, sorry about the side question but I am wondering just how much electricity my condo could generate if we set up a PPS.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        You need to look up your insolation. There are lots of web sites that provide that info. That tells you the number of daylight hours for your area. As far as how big your system can be, I'd say make a rough drawing of your roof area on a drawing program that includes things like vent pipes and other things you'll need to work around. Then create rectangles the size of solar panels and see how many of them you can fit up there.
        Ziv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        Crap, I did it again. The 7.6MW should be 7.6MWh as per the SUNY study.
        Ziv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        Spec, I thought that was what the SUNY/NREL study was telling me. I have eliminated the elevator shafts and the vent shafts and have ended up with a conservative number of square feet of 90,000 sq ft and an insolation figure that indicates a yield of 4.55 kWh per M^2 per day, but I don't know if that is what the yield would be if the solar array was perfectly efficient or if it is a figure that is using an estimated efficiency of 20%. I am guessing that the 4.55 kWh is what the sun delivers, and 20% is probably as good as it gets in the real world so that the daily output would be around 7.6MW on an average day. So if the article states that the average house uses 9 kWh a day, I would guess a condo uses less, or around 6 kWh a day max. If the array generates 7.6 MWh ( I think I left the h off the 7.6MW above) or 7,600 kWh divided by 250 condos in the building, we would yield something in the neighborhood of 30 kWh per condo, which seems ridiculously high. I must be doing something wrong. Because if my condo could sell the electricity to the local utility at a wholesale price of 3 cents a kWh, that would mean that a roof array on my building yielding 7.6 kWh per day would generate around $230 daily or around $80,000 a year, which isn't chump change. That is nearly 5% of the cost of managing the entire building for the year. Not to mention the fact that it could give us an option for powering the building when the electricity is down after a storm.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        And is that article from Europe? I think the Average American house uses like 30KWH per day (which is really wasteful). I probably use around 20KWH/day but that includes an EV. But all my heat/hot-water/dryer/stove/oven is natural gas and I'm reasonable efficient with lots of LEDs.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        I've been looking at insolation maps that give a number of hours per day but you've been looking at ones that provide KWH/m^2 per day. Either way works. I think the 20% number you are using is much too high. The panels are more around 12% to 17% efficient. And that is if they are perfectly oriented & track which they most likely don't. Plus you get inverter losses. So I'm guessing your efficiency part is where you are going wrong. PV panels have pretty low efficiency and are generally installed at a fixed azimuth and angle that is suboptimal.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        If the building Engineer is ambitious, he should propose doing it himself as a side project. Perhaps he could make some extra money, learn valuable new skills, and install the system for much less than building owner would pay an installer. But I always wonder how such a project gets split up economically? Does everyone get an equal cut of the power generated and pay the difference between what is generated and what they use? Who deals with all the accounting and billing?
        Ziv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        Spec, thanks for the reply, but I think I am just messing up by the numbers, literally, as I look at this info. You are right about houses using a lot more electricity than 9 kWh per day, even my 1 bedroom condo probably uses at least that much. I was trying to figure out how much power my condo could generate if they installed a solar array on the roof of the building. I just wish more large buildings would look into putting solar arrays on the roof. GM may be greenwashing a bit, but it seems like now that the prices are coming down, the chances of it working financially are going up. But it helps to know the basics and I am not up to speed enough. But I think I will pitch the idea to the building engineer with a guesstimate using a 12-15% probable efficiency range and see what he has to say. He has been pretty aggressively looking for ways to cut utility costs so maybe he will check into it. If he writes up an estimate, I am pretty sure he won't be writing MW when he is thinking MWh like I was doing...
      GoodCheer
      • 1 Year Ago
      Solar nerds may enjoy looking at this site every couple of days: http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx#SupplyandDemand The second graph shows each renewable output within California. I'm always impressed with how smooth the aggregated solar output is. Unfortunately, this plant's output will not be smooth like CAs, single plants will look more like the smaller, wigglier lines here: http://i1.wp.com/cleantechnica.com/files/2013/07/Screen-Shot-2013-07-04-at-11.20.20-AM.png But presumably in a huge auto plant they can deal with those variations.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GoodCheer
        And look at the way solar and wind are very complementary. It is often windy when there is not as much sun and often sunny when the wind is calm. This biggest difficulty is the 6 to 8 pm second peak when people come home and turn on the TV and cook dinner. That happens right when solar PV has dropped off. Concentrated Solar that can store heat can help with that. And a dispatch of hydropower.
          skierpage
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          I'm compelled to be complimentary that you used "complementary" correctly. About one person in 50 on teh interwebs gets it right. :)
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