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Ford goes solar at Michigan Assembly Plant

Ford announced Friday their new solar energy partnership with DTE Energy and one of the largest solar power generation projects in the state. The system is already delivering 500 kilowatts of power to the Michigan Assembly Plant where various models of the Focus are built.
Posted: March 14, 2011 - 5:41PM
Author: Don Bain

The generator is married to a battery storage facility that can save up to 2 million watt-hours of energy – enough to power 100 family homes for a full year in the northern state.

The system will power not only production of the Focus, but also the Focus Electric and the next-generation of hybrid and plug-in vehicle.

This installation will additionally act as a model for other solar projects at applicable Ford plants.

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 generated will help power the production of Ford's all-new Focus coming to showrooms this month. The plant will also produce Ford's first zero-emission electric passenger vehicle, the Focus Electric, and the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

A secondary, smaller solar energy system will be integrated to supply 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."

The project also includes a 50-kilowatt-hour facility to demonstrate reuse of electric batteries from vehicles in stationary energy storage. Xtreme Power of Austin, Texas, supplied the on-site energy storage and power management system.

In addition, Ford is installing 10 electric vehicle charging stations to recharge the electric switcher trucks transporting vehicle parts between buildings at the site. Part of the project involves demonstrations of using electric vehicle batteries as stationary storage in their vehicular afterlife.

"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."

The system will recharge from the grid when energy is available at a lower cost. Then in turn it will provide inexpensive power during peak operating hours when the cost per kilowatt-hour is higher, reducing peak demand on the power 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."