General Motors has installed an 8.15 MW solar array on the rooftop of one of its Opel plants in Germany.
The array at Rüsselsheim – one of the largest solar installations in Europe – has an area equivalent to 32 soccer fields and will generate about 7.3 million kWh per year of energy. This represents a CO2 reduction of about 3,150 tons a year, equal to the amount of carbon isolated annually by 609 acres of pine forests, the company says.
The solar electricity produced at Rüsselsheim feeds directly into the grid of the plant and is used in vehicle production. Excess solar power is fed into the public grid of German energy company Stadtwerke Mainz.
The latest installation, together with GM’s other solar arrays in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and Zaragoza, Spain, will allow the company to produce 19.1 million kWh of electricity a year – equivalent to the avoidance of 8,200 tons of CO2 emissions.
In July last year the company announced plans to double its solar output from 30 MW in 2011 to 60 MW by 2015. GM vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs Mike Robinson said that the goal was launched with projects like the Rüsselsheim installation in mind. GM has a second target of increasing its renewable power to 125 MW by 2020.
In May, GM announced the construction of what it hopes will be its third LEED-certified building. The engine plant in southern Brazil, equipped with numerous sustainability features including solar energy and water recycling systems, is expected to be operational by the end of 2012. Energy generated from solar panels — an amount equal to the electricity consumption of 285 Brazilian homes — will be used to power the plant’s lighting on the manufacturing floors and in administrative offices, GM said.
In July 2012, the auto giant announced that its Powertrain Engineering Center in Turin, Italy, had harvested 300,000 kWh of energy from test benches – equipment that tests various measures of a running engine – within a year, and used it to power all of the facility’s computers. The plant runs 15 test benches, which help engineers design more fuel-efficient engines for Chevrolet and Opel. The facility is building five more benches, GM says.