In July of 2011, Sunlogics and General Motors announced a $7.5 million contract for Sunlogics to install solar-powered electric charging stations in GM’s North American dealerships. The charging stations, called solar canopies, have already been installed at multiple dealerships and GM manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S.
Each constructed solar canopy generates enough electricity to fully charge 12 Chevy Volt electric vehicles and to also replace 25 percent of each dealership’s daily grid power consumption.
The solar canopies are part of GM’s broader Green Zone Initiative. Approximately 1.4 percent of GM’s total U.S. energy consumption is currently obtained from renewable sources. This percentage, which seems small as a stand-alone number, is higher than any other auto manufacturer’s percentage.
GM and renewables GM owns the world’s largest rooftop solar installation, at an assembly facility in Spain, and also owns three of the largest rooftop solar installations in the U.S. Through the Green Zone Initiative, GM has pledged to double solar electricity generation from 30 megawatt-hours to 60 megawatt-hours by the end of 2015.
In September of 2011, Sunlogics acquired EPV Solar Germany GmbH. EPV Solar owns proprietary amorphous thin-film technology that Sunlogics immediately began incorporating into the GM solar canopy projects.
Poly-crystalline silicon wafer cells are opaque and brittle, while amorphous thin-film cells are flexible and can be nearly transparent, and the thin-layer PV panels are more conducive to Building Integrated Photovoltaic construction methods. The transparent nature of the thin-film PV panels creates a large skylight at each location and further reduced energy consumption by reducing interior lighting needs through effective use of daylighting.
Powermat, a US manufacturer of wireless charging pads, also received a $5 million contract from GM in 2011 to install wireless chargers at each canopy. Powermat technology allows the dealerships to charge the vehicles simply by parking them under the solar canopy without plugging into standard wired outlets.