Cutting into the bottom line and cutting into the carbon footprint, that’s the aim behind General Motors’ continuing solar power expansion at its facilities worldwide.
Solar power does have some disadvantages, such as daily and weather intermittency, as well as seasonal variations, but they can still significantly reduce the amount of energy taken from the power grid. While it takes a while to pay for itself, a solar power installation runs free and practically forever. Depending on your section of the grid, adopting solar power can also significantly reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
General Motors has set some big goals regarding its adoption of renewable energy, 125 MW by 2020, and is adding more every month toward that goal. Currently, between solar power installations, landfill gas, and biomass, General Motors is nearly halfway there, over 60 MW of renewable energy. This week, the forward-thinking company announced plans to install an additional 150 kW of solar power capacity at its processing center in Swartz Creek and engine plant in Flint, both in the state of Michigan. Total annual output of about 130,700 ft2 of solar panels is expected to exceed 400 MWh, or the equivalent of 25 average American homes.
The new solar power arrays will go online in the fall but, of course, solar power isn’t all that General Motors is expanding. Oil recovered from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was used to manufacture plastic parts for the Chevy Volt, whose batteries also find a second life as micro-grid backup power supplies. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant, for example, uses landfill-gas-powered steam and electricity for part its energy needs, 58% of which is entirely renewable energy.
Photo credit: steevithak