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GM adds 3 acres of solar arrays in Michigan

29 June 2014

General Motors is increasing its renewable energy use with 3 acres of new solar arrays at two Michigan facilities. The company’s processing center in Swartz Creek and engine plant in Flint will feature 150 kW ground-mount solar arrays expected to generate a combined 400,000 kWh of renewable energy per year to the facilities’ grids. That is equivalent to the annual energy use of 25 homes.

After the projects are complete this fall, GM will house more than 38 MW of solar power at 13 facilities around the world and more than 60 MW of renewable energy globally when combined with its landfill gas and biomass energy use.

The new installations bring GM closer to reaching its goal to increase renewable energy use globally to 125 MW by 2020.

Ever since our first solar array in 2006, GM has realized the benefits of renewable energy. Not only does it reduce our emissions and lessen our dependence on petroleum, it makes a statement about the role businesses can play in securing a cleaner energy future.

—Rob Threlkeld, GM global renewable energy manager

GM announced its plans for the installations this week in Boston at the annual PV America East Expo, where conference organizers Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) recognized GM with a Project of Distinction Award—the highest achievement for a photovoltaic solar energy project—for the integrated solar microgrid system at the company’s plant in Baltimore.

GM, OnStar and energy service company TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. partnered to use aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid, operated by PJM Interconnection. The site also is home to a 1.237 MW rooftop solar array—one of the largest in Maryland—that generates nearly 6% of the facility’s electric consumption.

According to SEIA, GM leads all automakers in the number of solar installations in the US and ranks among the top US corporate solar users in 2013 and 2012. It named GM a “Solar Champion” for the company’s significant impact on establishing a strong solar industry. GM’s other U.S. solar installations include:

  • A 1.8 MW installation at Toledo Transmission, Ohio’s largest rooftop array.
  • A 1 MW array at its Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. distribution center, the nation’s first 1-megawatt public solar project.
  • A 516 kW installation at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Michigan’s largest ground-mount solar array.
  • A 900 kW rooftop array on its Fontana, Calif. parts distribution warehouse.
  • A 350 kW ground-mount array at Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Mich.
  • A 49-kilowatt ground-mount array at GM’s Technical Center in Warren, Mich.

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Will that be enough to offset the negative effects of the last 4+ million call backs?

They're using a very high estimate for a home energy usage. That's 16 MWhr per home, per year. That's 43 kWh per day! But I guess Michigan doesn't have California's energy efficiency standards yet.

While this is obviously good, I think wind would be so more productive, I assume GM has a lot of parking lots, so they could easily put some windmills there. At Volvo truck plant in Belgium, they installed a 3 wind turbines of 2MW each a few years ago.

With 6MW nominal power wind, this is much much more than 150kW nominal power solar, and it only takes a few square meters ground space (instead of 3 acres)

That depends, is this a good wind area?

The annual generation figure of 400 MWh assumes a capacity factor of 30%.  In Flint, I would expect closer to half that.

You forget that since the 70's auto plants are required to operate 24/7 to recoup their robotic capital. Robots don't need HVAC to the extent of humans, so no correlation between available insolation and sector demand here. A sour development indeed for solar.

Michigan’s electric rates are higher than the national average. Between May 2012 and May 2013, the average retail price of electricity for Michigan’s residential customers went from 14.40 cents per kilowatt hour to 15.11 cents per kilowatt hour, a 4.9 percent increase, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For industrial customers, that price went from 7.85 cents per kilowatt hour to 8.17 cents per kilowatt hour, increasing by 4.1 percent.

At that price the 400,000 kwh that GM's 2 new 150 kw solar arrays will generate will save them an additional $32,680 per year.

For a miserable $32K a year, GM and Detroit would be better off fracking the Lower Mitten for natural gas, which is what they are doing. Given the fiscal state of the State, a tax holiday on fracking would burgeon income, and even showcase CNG vehicles.

Right, "a miserable $32K a year" from just 300 kw which is out of the "more than 38 MW of solar power at 13 facilities around the world and more than 60 MW of renewable energy globally when combined with its landfill gas and biomass energy use.

The new installations bring GM closer to reaching its goal to increase renewable energy use globally to 125 MW by 2020."

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