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Ford to Power Small Car Mfg Plant with Solar Energy

Ford Motor Company is partnering with Detroit Edison, Xtreme Power and the state of Michigan to install one of the largest solar power generation systems in the state at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. The 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system will be integrated with a 750-kw energy storage facility that can store two million watt-hours of energy using batteries.

The renewable energy will help power the production of Ford’s fuel-efficient small cars, including the Focus and Focus Electric going into production in 2011, and a next-generation hybrid vehicle and a plug-in hybrid vehicle scheduled for introduction in 2012.

A secondary, smaller solar energy system will be integrated at a later date to power lighting systems.

When the plant is inactive, such as holidays, the collected solar energy will go into the energy storage system for later use, providing power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight, says Ford. In addition, the energy storage system will be able to recharge from the grid during off-peak hours when energy is available at a lower cost.

The combined systems are expected to save an estimated $160,000 per year in energy costs. Installation of the system begins later this year.

The project is part of the Michigan Assembly plant’s transformation from a large SUV factory to a sustainable small car plant, says Ford.

While Ford is working with Detroit Edison to install the photovoltaic panel system, Xtreme Power is supplying its Dynamic Power Resource on-site energy storage and power management system.

The solar energy installation is part of Detroit Edison’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 by Detroit Edison’s SolarCurrents program, a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission in support of the state’s smart-grid initiative, and approximately $800,000 from Ford.

Ford also will install 10 electric vehicle-charging stations at the plant to demonstrate advanced battery charging technologies using renewable energy and other smart-grid advances. The stations will be used to recharge electric switcher trucks that transport parts between adjacent facilities.

Ford’s Dagenham Diesel Centre in the UK was the first automotive plant in the world to obtain all of its electrical power needs from on-site wind turbines. In addition, Ford’s Bridgend Engine Plant in Wales was the first site retrofitted with one of the largest integrated, grid-connected solar photovoltaic installations at a car manufacturing plant in Europe.

Since 2008, Ford has sourced renewable electricity to cover the full electric power demand at its manufacturing plant in Cologne, Germany, reducing CO2 emissions by 190,000 tons per year.

Ford says renewable or green power supplies three percent of its energy needs worldwide.

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