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GM getting its second sun-tracking Solar Tree from Envision Solar

Posted: September 8, 2012 - 10:46PM
Author: Don Bain
Imagine driving your electric car to work and parking beneath a large shade structure that you can actually plug your car into – and it tracks the sun delivering up to 30 percent more power from the sun’s daily trek. GM is getting their second Tracking Solar Tree at its Milford Testing Ground.


GM’s first Tracking Solar Tree was installed mid-November last year in the parking lot of GM Company Vehicle Operations. This week, groundbreaking for the deployment of a second Tracking Solar Tree utilizing Envision's proprietary sun-tracking software and SunCharge system integrated into an EV charging station column and shade provider.

With a patent still pending, the dual synchronous tracking system enables the array to convert 25 percent more sunlight into power than a fixed canopy. The solar collector can produce as much as 30,000-kilowatt hours a year – enough sustainable solar juice to charge six electric vehicles every day.

"Envision's Solar Tree is an ideal renewable energy solution because it gives us the ability to pull solar power from an area where traditional methods aren't feasible due to space or structural restrictions," said Rob Threlkeld, Global Manager – Renewable Energy, General Motors. "Solar Trees, deployed in parking lots, will go a long way in helping us reach our renewable energy goals and it's important to us that we use architecturally beneficial products, like the Solar Tree, whenever we are deploying in high visibility sites."

In theory, a GM employee could drive up to 48 miles to work in a Chevy Volt, plug into the Tracking Solar Tree, and recharge enough to get back home on all-electric power except on totally cloudy days. In the next 20 years, living in the wild, Wild West may take on a whole new connotation, simply because of the number of days of sunshine common in the Western US.

"General Motors is a valued customer with whom we are growing our footprint", said Desmond Wheatley, President and CEO of Envision Solar. "We are excited by the prospect of our tracking Solar Tree arrays in GM facilities and dealerships all over the country and this ground breaking in Michigan is the latest step in that journey. We have designed special Solar Tree arrays specifically for GM and we are making sure that we continue to provide them with the highest quality, most productive structures available. One great American product working with another."

Amen to that – maybe the Aztecs were on to something with their reverence for the Sun. They saw it as the source of life – something it may yet be to some of our cars in the not so distant future.