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Solar Power Blooms In Warren

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Local officials cut the ribbon on General Motors' new 'solar tree' in Warren.

Local officials cut the ribbon on General Motors’ new ‘solar tree’ in Warren.

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WARREN — General Motors Wednesday officially cut the ribbon on a new solar electric vehicle charging canopy that swivels to move with the sun.

The “Tracking Solar Tree” is located at GM’s Company Vehicle Operations Facility in Warren, near its Warren Tech Center.

“We are constantly looking for places where we can add a renewable focus,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy. “This solar tree is an ideal addition because not only does it provide a space to charge our electric vehicles, but it’s another step in our journey toward cleaner energy use.”

The Tracking Solar Tree, built in America by San Diego-based Envision Solar, features a hybrid multi-axis tracking design which enables the entire canopy to track the sun, increasing clean renewable energy production by about 25 percent. This structure will produce up to 30,000 kilowatt hours a year and provide enough solar energy to charge six electric vehicles per day.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts praised GM for the installation: “GM will not rest on its laurels and the city of Warren will not rest on its laurels either.” He said the city and GM are both pursing “innovation, imagination, perserverance … a cleaner environment and reduced dependence on petroleum.”

Envision Solar president Desmond Wheatley pointed at the six Chevrolet Volts beneath the solar tree, and noted that “these vehicles run happily not on oil extracted from beneath Arabic sand, nor even from electricity generated from coal ripped out of a mountainside … but on pure, glorious sunlight from our nearest neighboring star.”

The 30-by-30-foot solar panel platform of solar panels rests atop a single, central tree-trunk-size pole, with the platform roughly 10 feet in the air.

solar tree 2 e1321477862684 Solar Power Blooms In WarrenCindy Brinkley, vice president of global human resources at GM, said the automaker plans to boost its solar power production companywide from the current 30 megawatts to 60 megawatts by 2015. In the United States, 1.4 percent of GM energy consumption comes from renewable resources.

Wheatley said a solar tree the size of GM’s generates about 15 kilowatts on a sunny day, roughly enough to power three homes. It costs about $150,000 for a turnkey installation, he said.

More at www.envisionsolar.com

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