An 800-kilowatt solar array will be built by DTE Energy in Warren, Michigan for General Motors. Twenty-eight hundred solar panels will be installed over about 4.25 acres to generate one million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The GM transmission center at Warren builds front-wheel drive transmissions for the new 2016 Chevy Volt, among other GM vehicles. (GM has experienced success with the gas-electric hybrid Volt, and many are anticipating the public launch of the all-electric Bolt, which is due out fairly soon.)
“By supporting this project and making renewable energy commitments globally, we will surpass our goal to promote 125 megawatts of clean power by 2020. This new array, along with our solar array at the nearby GM Technical Center in Warren, makes GM’s commitment to clean energy visible to the Warren community,” explained Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy.
GM currently has about 46 MW of solar at 19 sites around the world. Solar power is not the only form of clean energy for the giant auto manufacturer — it was announced this year that it would also add 34 MW of wind power in Mexico.
There is a fascinating connection between the auto industry in Michigan and the clean energy industry. According to the NRDC, “Michigan is building on its historic auto manufacturing strengths to grow its renewable energy industry, providing new employment for the state’s highly skilled workforce. Michigan’s clean economy is helping power the state’s recovery, employing more than 76,000 workers. As Michigan expands its clean energy production, the renewable energy industry could support nearly 21,000 jobs in manufacturing alone by 2020, if the industry sources components from local manufacturers.”
It has been estimated that Michigan’s solar power potential could be measured in thousands of gigawatts, “While Michigan has only 20 MW of installed solar PV capacity, its technical potential is nearly 3,500 GW, even a fraction of which could completely replace the state’s generation fleet.”
Solar power historically has been perceived by some in America as “weird” or supported mostly by “hippies.”
When one of America’s largest and oldest companies invests in it, we see that it is becoming more mainstream.