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EPA recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga with a Green Power Leadership Award for on-site generation

The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen Chattanooga has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the only automaker to be so recognized. The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Volkswagen Chattanooga was one of only four organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award in the category of on-site generation of green power. (The others were Apple; the County of Santa Clara, CA; and Kaiser Permanete.) The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves using on-site renewable energy applications, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or landfill gas. Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kWh of green power annually from its on-site 9.5 MW solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12% of the organization’s electricity use. (Earlier post.)

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to Volkswagen’s manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 GWh hours of electricity per year. The array is the largest system of its kind in the North American automotive industry and in the state of Tennessee.

Prior to opening the Solar Park, the Chattanooga plant became the first auto plant in the world to receive LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council in 2012.

Chattanooga also serves as the model for new Volkswagen Group plants around the world. It remains the only auto plant worldwide to earn the LEED Platinum certification.

We are honored that the EPA has recognized us with a Green Power Leadership award for the renewable energy generated by the Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park at our LEED Platinum certified factory in Tennessee.

Volkswagen’s worldwide conservation program is called Think Blue and it’s a global call to sustainable ecological action on our blue planet. Generating green power onsite is an important part of Volkswagen’s efforts to be responsible for our footprint in everything from powering our factory to powering our cars.

—Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga

Think Blue KPIs
Think Blue is the long-term attitude of Volkswagen toward ecological sustainability. In a briefing in Chattanooga in June of this year, Ron Drumeller, Head of Environment and Energy at the plant, outlined the Think Blue environmental KPIs (key performance indicators):
Indicator 2012 baseline 2018 target
Energy 1,253 kWh/car 1,018 kWh/car
Water 2.48 m3/car 2.01 m3/car
Waste 31.08 kg/car 25.25 kg/car
CO2 .393 t/car .319 t/car
VOCs 1.84 kg/car 1.49 kg/car

Volkswagen Chattanooga currently ranks No. 15 on EPA’s Top 20 On-site Generation list, which highlights EPA Green Power Partners that have achieved the highest annual on-site green power generation through July 3, 2013. EPA updates its Top Partner Lists quarterly.

Walmart is currently Nº 1 on the on-site generation list (174,835,668 kWh), followed by the US DOE and Apple in second and third place. BMW, the only other automaker on that top 20 list, is fourth, with 70,883,601 kWh at its Greer, SC manufacturing facility.

Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power accelerates the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

According to the EPA, Volkswagen Chattanooga’s current green power generation of more than 13 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of nearly 2,000 passenger vehicles per year, or is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power nearly more than 1,000 average American homes annually.

Opened in 2011, the $1-billion Volkswagen Chattanooga factory manufactures the US Passat sedan, specifically designed for the North American market. A 2012 University of Tennessee study found that Volkswagen’s presence created more 12,000 full-time jobs and is responsible for $643 million in annual income in the area, as well as, $53.5 million annually in state and local taxes.

In 2012, the factory produced more than 152,400 cars. Volkswagen Chattanooga is also certified according to ISO 14001 for its environmental management system and according to ISO 50001 for its energy management system.

EPA’s Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,500 Partner organizations voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually.

Partners include Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities.



Nice, but I'd prefer to keep the trees, and install a few windmills of 7.5MW at the edge of the forest.



Do we know if they cut down any trees to build the solar park? From the picture it seems to be an odd shape, like they had to fit it into an existing clearing. And there's another clearing to the south of it.


"Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kWh of green power annually from its on-site 9.5 MW solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12% of the organization’s electricity use."

1/8th of what they use. Somehow it just doesn't add up.

If we deleted the hype and did the math, wonder what it would look like?


There was an earlier post about this project but the "earlier post" link doesn't go there, however I think someone pointed out at that time that the site was previously used for another purpose (industrial or waste disposal).


Link to previous post fixed.


Trees can grow under wind mills and/or transparent solar panels?


Trees? Full trees, no. But trees are very slow growing so saplings could be planted there for a few years and when transplanted later.

However if your purpose is to fight AGW a better approach would be to plant faster growing crops, pyrolysis the biomass to use the hydrogen component for energy, and bury the biochar for carbon sequestration.

Kit P

“Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro.”

Close to Chattanooga are four large nuke plants. Since these plants are on manmade lakes, they have lower environmental impact than wind or solar.

The climate of Chattanooga is hot and humid. A poor place to put PV panels. It is also a jungle and a great place to use waste biomass except it does not make for prettymarketing pictures. For the same money they could get 100% of their energy needs from renewable energy from biomass.

I have attended an EPA Greenpower conference. It is about marketing and not good environmental choices. While some at the US EPA are knowledgeable about making good choices, it is now mostly about politics.

Awards for bad choices and no leadership.


"Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama's main channel for climate action.

Details of Alec's strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week."

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