Ford and DTE Energy have teamed up to build the primary part of Michigan's largest solar power generation system for DTE's power grid. The uses for the 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel installed at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne are two-fold.
For one, power from the new system will go into production of Ford's new Focus, Focus electric vehicle and other new-generation hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
And, the solar power generated from the panel will feed into a 750-watt kilowatt energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries, an amount that can provide power to about 100 Michigan homes a year.
While the panel will eventually save the automaker in energy costs, there are other benefits, says Scott Simons, DTE Energy spokesman.
"It benefits all of our customers and it makes us less reliant on bringing in energy from other sources," he says. "It's also good for the environment because we're turning to an alternative energy source. Instead or relying on fossil fuels, we are using renewable energy."
The project is a collaboration between Ford, DTE Energy, Xtreme Power of Austin Texas, the city of Wayne, and the state of Michigan. The project was funded by $3 million from DTE Energy's SolarCurrents
program, which, in part, calls for the installation of photovoltaic systems on customer rooftops or property over the next five years in order to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout southeast Michigan.
Another $2 million came from a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission
in support of its smart-grid program.
About $800,000 worth of in-kind contributions were provided by Ford
, which will install 10 electric vehicle charging stations at Michigan Assembly. The stations will recharge the electric switcher trucks that transport vehicle parts at the site. Part of the project seeks to show that electric vehicle batteries can be reused for stationary power storage after they are no longer useful in vehicles.
The project serves as a pilot for solar systems at other Ford facilities, but this is not Ford's first foray into alternative energy.
"The Michigan Assembly Plant solar array builds on Ford's other renewable energy initiatives including geothermal energy in Ohio and wind energy in the U.K. and Belgium," Donna Inch, chairman and CEO of Ford Land, says in a statement. "This is one more step in our journey toward sustainability."Sources: Scott Simons, DTE Energy; Donna Inch, chairman and CEO of Ford LandWriter: Kim North Shine