General Motors installed a Tracking Solar Tree at its Vehicle Operations Facility at Warren, Michigan. GM became the first auto manufacturer to utilize a solar tree, which can generate up to 30,000 kilowatt hours each year. It is enough to charge six electric vehicles each day.
The new solar tree would be used to support the growing number of electric vehicles. This is vital in keeping with the new fuel economy standards. Congress confirmed the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. To meet the goal, car makers must sell more electric and hybrid vehicles.
The solar charging canopy moves with the sun. Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy, said that the company is looking for other locations for its renewable initiative. The solar tree is ideal because it provides a greener way to charge electric vehicles. It’s another step for GM towards cleaner energy use.
The Tracking Solar Tree is built by Envision Solar which is a leading sustainable infrastructure product designer and developer. It has a hybrid multi-axis tracking design that allows the entire canopy to track the sun. This maximizes the amount of energy generated throughout the day by 25 percent.
The Tracking Solar Tree in Warren supports GM’s position as the top user of renewable energy in manufacturing. The company uses energy from solar, landfill gas, and hydropower in its operations. In the United States, it gets 1.4 percent of its energy consumption from renewable energy resources.
The ribbon cutting event for the inauguration of the solar tree was held on November 16. It was attended by mayor of Warren and representatives from both GM and Envision Solar.
This is good press for GM after its Chevy Volt electric vehicle received some bad ones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA issued a statement saying that it has investigated an incident involving a fire in a Chevy Volt that happened three weeks after the car was crash tested. The NHTSA concluded that the fire was caused by the damaged lithium ion battery.
The NHTSA did add that the Volt or any other electric vehicles have the same risk of fire as gasoline-powered vehicles after a serious crash. Consumers using electric vehicles are asked to observe the same action they would take in a crash involving a gasoline-powered car.