Ford, Edison Teaming Up On Major Solar Power Plant

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Ford Motor Co., Detroit Edison, Xtreme Power and the state of Michigan are teaming up to build one of Michigan’s largest solar power generation systems and electric vehicle charging stations at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

Ford will work with Detroit Edison to install a 500-kilowatt solar  photovoltaic panel system at Michigan Assembly. The system will be integrated with a 750-kw energy storage facility that can store two million watt-hours of energy using batteries – enough to power 100 average Michigan homes for a year.

The renewable energy captured by the project’s primary solar energy system will help power the production of fuel-efficient small cars, including Ford’s all-new Focus and Focus Electric going into production in 2011, and a next-generation hybrid vehicle and a plug-in hybrid vehicle coming in 2012.

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

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

“With this solar energy system, we will be able to gain vital understanding about the integration of renewable power, smart-grid technologies and energy storage at an industrial facility,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president, North America Manufacturing. “This project is a part of the transformation of Michigan Assembly from a large SUV factory to a modern, flexible, and sustainable small car plant.”

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 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 made possible 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.

“Our partnership with Ford is just the latest example of how our companies have worked together to power the economic engine of Southeast Michigan,” said Trevor Lauer, Detroit Edison vice president of marketing and renewables. “Building solar energy systems on the scale we’re pursuing will increase demand for these technologies, and we’re working with the governor’s office and various economic development organizations to attract renewable energy manufacturers and green jobs to Michigan.”

Michigan Assembly will operate on a blend of renewable and conventional electricity. The renewable energy collected by the solar system will go directly into the energy-efficient microgrid to help provide power to the plant. 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.

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

Ford also will install 10 electric vehicle-charging stations at Michigan Assembly 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. Xtreme Power will provide an active power management system on the charging stations. Ford also will demonstrate the possibility for using electrified vehicle batteries as stationary power storage devices after their useful life as vehicle power sources is over.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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