Saturday, 26 March 2011

Ford sparks solar power at Michigan plant
16 March 2011

Ford, alongside DTE Energy, announced this month that a new 500 kW solar power system at its Michigan Assembly plant is now operational. It serves both as a test pilot program and also the automaker's largest solar power generating system to date. It is being used, among other things, to help power the production of small, fuel efficient cars like the new Focus Electric, which we covered earlier this year.

A smaller solar power project is expected to be installed at the Michigan Assembly plant that will power the lighting systems at the manufacturing center. The plant is also being set up with a 750 kW clean energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt hours of power using batteries, or reportedly enough energy for approximately 100 average Michigan homes for a year. And, as if this weren't enough already, a 50 kW facility to demonstrate the potential reuse of vehicle electric batteries for stationary energy storage is being mixed in as well.

In addition to solar and energy storage pilots, Ford will also create ten electric vehicle charging stations. The stations will be used by electric switcher trucks to transport parts from one building to another on the site. All of this was funded by a $3 million investment from DTE Engery's SolarCurrents program, a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission, and around $800,000 from Ford itself.

These clean energy projects come Ford is putting more investment into green technology with vehicles like the C Max Hybrid, a new software system that seeks to improve fuel economy, and even a Revolving Energy Fund with the University of Michigan. But, only time will tell if the automaker's competing ideas, like their electric charger, will be enough to stand up against electric models like the Nissan LEAF and others.