General Motors announced July 8 that it is adding the world's largest rooftop solar photovoltaic power installation to its car assembly plant located in Figueruelas, Zaragoza, Spain. When the project is completed in the fall of 2008, the Zaragoza solar installation will cover about 2,000,000 square feet of roof at the plant and comprises about 85,000 solar panels.
When fully operational, the Zaragoza solar installation will generate about 12 megawatts of power at its highest output. The installation will generate about 15.1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power annually, which is equivalent to the demand of 4,575 households with an average annual consumption of 3,300 kWh in Spain.
"The Zaragoza project demonstrates proof that GM is actively accelerating our efforts to be part of the solution to the environmental issues and challenges facing our world," said Gary Cowger, GM group vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labor Relations. "We are proud to be a global leader in the usage of renewable energy."
GM currently has two of the largest solar power installations in the United States on the roofs of its Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, California parts warehouses. The Rancho Cucamonga project was the first public solar project in the U.S. over 1 megawatt, when it began operating in the fall of 2006. The solar panels provide about 50 percent of the electricity to the facility.
The Fontana project, also 1 megawatt, became operational in December 2007. It generates about 1.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which is about the amount needed to power 200 homes yearly.
"As we develop new solutions in vehicle propulsion to reduce carbon emissions, we are also making significant progress in reducing the impact our facilities have on the environment," said Elizabeth A. Lowery, GM vice president, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. "Our commitment to expanding the usage of renewable energy sources is part of our coordinated global effort to reduce energy, water consumption, waste and CO2 emissions."
On the Zaragoza project, GM has partnered with Clairvoyant Energy, Veolia Environmental and the Government of Aragon to develop the renewable energy project. United Solar Ovonic will provide UNI-SOLAR thin film flexible solar laminates for the project.
GM will lease their roof space to Clairvoyant Energy and Veolia Environment, who will build, own and operate the rooftop solar installation. The project helps GM reduce costs, while providing "green" energy to the local community's power grid.
"Clairvoyant Energy is delighted to be working with GM as we share their vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions," stated David Hardee, CEO of Clairvoyant Energy. "Our company goal is to create a variety of solar electricity solutions as compared to fossil fuel electricity processes by 2014 and the way to get there is through lower costs and higher efficiency."
Veolia Environment, a world leader in environmental services, applies its technical and overall management expertise in the project's engineering, construction, approval process phases, as well as system operations maintenance.
Additionally, GM is one of the largest corporate users of landfill gas in the U.S. Landfill gas is the natural by-product of the decomposition of solid waste in landfills. Six GM facilities, including assembly plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., Shreveport, La., and Orion, Mich., have a portion of their energy needs filled through landfill gas. The sum of the landfill capacity at the six plants is equivalent to the energy needed to heat over 25,000 households per year. Additionally, landfill gas installations at GM plants generate annual savings exceeding $5 million.
The Zaragoza, Spain plant builds the Opel Corsa, Opel Meriva and the Opel Combo for the European marketplace.