Automakers plugging into power of the sun

audi-e-tronIn what one might call a welcome case of double-dipping, as in solar double-dipping, major carmakers such as GM, Ford and Audi are working to produce cars, some of which you can fuel with solar-generated electricity, via solar electricity generated by solar arrays on their manufacturing plants.

GM has announced that it will be adding a solar array at the Detroit-Hamtramck where it is producing the Chevy Volt, and Ford has said it will build some of its Ford Focus Electrics (due out in late 2011) at its Michigan Assembly Plant, which it plans to outfit with solar.

Audi is on board the green e-car solar express as well. The company plans to plug future E-tron EVs in at its Ingolstadt, Germany plant, where it is in the process of extending the plant’s solar energy capacity.

According to Audi, by the end of 2010, photovoltaic modules will have been installed on a 19,000 square meter area of the new Audi A3 body construction building’s roof.

“This concept shows that Audi is tackling the topic of electromobility systematically,” said Plant Manager Peter Kössler.

Audi is working in cooperation with Green City Energy on the solar expansion project. In 2009 Green City installed photovoltaic modules on 11,600 square meters at the Ingolstadt plant.

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Audi has now made an additional 7,500 square meters of roof area available on the Audi A3 body construction building, with a peak output rating of 500 kilowatts. Approximately 460 MWh of electricity can be obtained from this new installation, enough to satisfy the annual needs of about 180 households.

The extension increases the total annual output from all the plant’s installations of this type to about 1,500 MWh, of which approximately one third is used directly where it is generated.

This is the first time that solar energy generated on site has been used directly in Audi’s electricity network. As well as the new battery charging stations for electric cars, other production facilities will also use this green electricity.

Audi also makes use of solar energy at its second German production plant in Neckarsulm. The photovoltaic installation there is located on the roofs of several garage parking facilities, and generates more than 1,000 megawatts of electrical energy annually.

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