Ford launched a solar energy system to help generate electricity at its Michigan Assembly Plant earlier this month.
A portion of the renewable energy from the solar energy system will be used to help power the production of fuel-efficient cars—which includes an all-new battery-electric version of the Ford Focus, the C-MAX Hybrid, and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.
Ford installed 10 electric vehicle-charging stations on site, which will be utilized by the electric switcher trucks that transport vehicle parts around the manufacturing site.
The trucks will be used to test advanced battery charging technologies, such as renewable energy and other smart-grid advances.
Additionally, Ford will be testing vehicle electric batteries to see if they can be reused as stationary power storage devices after their life as a vehicle power has been exhausted.
“This solar energy system allows us to test the viability of alternative energy to supply power for our manufacturing facilities around the world. It serves as a significant initiative within our corporate emphasis on sustainability,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president.
How much solar energy?
The new solar powered system generates 500 kilowatts of renewable energy. The installation includes an energy storage facility that can store up to 2 million watt-hours of energy with batteries, which is enough energy to sustain 100 average Michigan homes for an entire year.
When the plant is inactive, the solar energy that is collected will be saved, and can be used to help power the plant during moments of inadequate sunlight.
This solar energy system allows us to test the viability of alternative energy to supply power for our manufacturing facilities around the world. It serves as a significant initiative within our corporate emphasis on sustainability.
–Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president
This solar project serves as a pilot study for the possibility of being installed at Ford’s other manufacturing facilities.
“Michigan Assembly Plant has been transformed into a facility that embodies our drive for flexible manufacturing and strives for new standards for green manufacturing,” said Tetreault.
How Ford made solar possible
In support of Michigan’s smart-grid initiative, the Michigan Public Service Commission gave a $2 million grant for the project, and approximately $800,000 of inner contributions came from Ford.
DTE Energy helped to install the 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system and the energy storage facility, as well as investing $3 million in the project.
DTE Energy vice president Trevor Lauer said, “We’re pleased to work with Ford as it takes another step to help the environment and with the state as it works to meet its renewable energy goals.”
Ford has implemented other renewable energy resources at factories in Ohio, the U.K. and Belgium, including geothermal and wind energy systems, according to Donna Inch, chairman and CEO of Ford Land.
“This is one more step in our journey toward sustainability,” Inch said.
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