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Ford and DTE Energy Soak up the Rays with One of Michigan’s Largest Solar Power Projects

published: 2011-03-14 14:43

The primary part of one of Michigan’s largest solar power generation systems at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant is now up and running, delivering renewable energy to help power the production of fuel-efficient small cars. The system is the result of collaboration between Ford, DTE Energy, Xtreme Power, the city of Wayne and the state of Michigan.

The renewable energy captured by the energy system will help power the production of Ford’s all-new Focus set to hit showrooms this month. The plant will also produce Focus Electric, Ford’s first zero-emission battery electric passenger vehicle and the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

The solar energy system will serve as a pilot alternative energy project to be evaluated for possible use at other Ford manufacturing facilities in the future. A secondary, smaller solar energy system will be integrated at Michigan Assembly to power lighting systems at the plant.

“This solar energy system allows us to test the viability of alternative energy to supply power for our manufacturing facilities around the world. It serves as a significant initiative within our corporate emphasis on sustainability,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president, North America Manufacturing. “Michigan Assembly Plant has been transformed into a facility that embodies our drive for flexible manufacturing and strives for new standards for green manufacturing.”
Energy storage

Ford collaborated with DTE Energy to install the 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system at Michigan Assembly. The system will be integrated with a 750-kilowatt energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries – enough to power 100 average Michigan homes for a year. The project will also include a 50-kilowatt-hour facility to demonstrate the potential reuse of vehicle electric batteries for stationary energy storage. Xtreme Power of Austin, Texas, is supplying its Dynamic Power Resource on-site energy storage and power management system.

The solar energy installation is part of DTE Energy’s pilot SolarCurrents program that calls for photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer rooftops or property over the next five years to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout southeast Michigan.

The Michigan Assembly project is funded by a $3 million investment from DTE Energy’sSolarCurrents program, a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission in support of the state’s smart-grid initiative, and approximately $800,000 worth of in-kind contributions from Ford.

“This multimillion-dollar investment is just a portion of DTE Energy’s commitment to renewable energy,” said Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president, Marketing & Renewables. “We’re pleased to work with Ford as it takes another step to help the environment and with the state as it works to meet its renewable energy goals.”
Solar power will also charge electric vehicle batteries

Ford will install 10 electric vehicle charging stations at Michigan Assembly to demonstrate advanced battery charging technologies for vehicles using renewable energy and other smart-grid advances. The stations will be used to recharge the electric switcher trucks that transport vehicle parts between adjacent buildings at the manufacturing site. Part of the pilot project involves a demonstration of the possibility for using electrified vehicle batteries as stationary power storage devices after their useful life as vehicle power sources is over.
Sustainable energy use

Michigan Assembly will operate on a blend of renewable and conventional electricity. Renewable energy collected by the solar system will go into the plant’s electrical distribution system to help provide power. When the plant is inactive, the collected solar energy will go into the Dynamic Power Resource storage system for later use, providing power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight.

“Xtreme Power is pleased to be a part of this groundbreaking project with two very progressive companies, Ford and DTE,” stated Carlos Coe, CEO of Xtreme Power. “This installation demonstrates the versatility of our Dynamic Power Resource. We developed a new product size to operate in a new climate and programmed the controls for a new application for proven technology.”

Michigan Assembly’s energy storage system will be able to recharge from the smart grid during off-peak hours when energy is available at a lower cost. This in turn can provide inexpensive power during peak operating hours when the cost per kilowatt-hour is usually higher, and can help reduce peak demand on the grid.

“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,” said Donna Inch, chairman and CEO, Ford Land. “This is one more step in our journey toward sustainability.”


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