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Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:57 PM

Volkswagen powers up giant solar installation at its Chattanooga, TN plant



Volkswagen on Wednesday “powered up” the largest single solar installation at an automotive manufacturing facility in the United States and the biggest solar installation in the state of Tennessee. At a dedication ceremony there, dignitaries flipped a giant light switch to signal the official opening of the “Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park”, built on Volkswagen’s compound in Chattanooga.

The solar installation at Volkswagen Chattanooga confirms the awarding of the highly-coveted LEED Platinum certification to VW by the U.S Green Building Council in late 2011. At that time, the Building Council called the Chattanooga manufacturing facility “the world’s greenest auto plant” and noted it was the first automotive manufacturing plant in the world to receive the top LEED certification. On Wednesday, the Chattanooga plant remains the only auto plant worldwide to earn the LEED Platinum certification.

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to VW’s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year -- equivalent to the energy consumed annually by around 1,200 homes in the area.

The electricity produced from the solar park is expected to meet 12.5% of the energy needs of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant during full production and 100% during non-production periods. The plant covers 1.9 million square feet and employs more than 3,000 people who manufacture the highly-acclaimed Volkswagen Passat sedan. For Volkswagen, the solar park in Chattanooga will rank as the automaker’s largest photovoltaic installation worldwide.


http://www.chattanoogan.com/2013/1/23/242786/Volkswagen-Chattanooga-Powers-Up.aspx

18 replies, 3296 views

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Reply Volkswagen powers up giant solar installation at its Chattanooga, TN plant (Original post)
Redfairen Jan 2013 OP
msongs Jan 2013 #1
harmonicon Jan 2013 #2
OnlinePoker Jan 2013 #4
happyslug Jan 2013 #9
OnlinePoker Jan 2013 #14
judesedit Jan 2013 #3
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #5
Jackpine Radical Jan 2013 #8
caraher Jan 2013 #10
happyslug Jan 2013 #11
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #13
grahamhgreen Jan 2013 #6
fasttense Jan 2013 #7
groundloop Jan 2013 #12
prole_for_peace Jan 2013 #15
triplepoint Jan 2013 #16
roody Jan 2013 #17
Roland99 Jan 2013 #18

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:40 PM

1. don't seem to be any panels on the roofs of the actual buildings in that picture tho nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 12:04 PM

2. ... and?! or ... therefore? What?! (nt)

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 03:45 PM

4. Those might not be part of Volkswagon's plant. n/t

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Response to OnlinePoker (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:55 AM

9. Actually those buidings are the Plant, the panals cover just ground

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to VW’s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year -- equivalent to the energy consumed annually by around 1,200 homes in the area.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #9)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 04:01 PM

14. I couldn't tell from the photo...

...if that was the plant or some other industrial complex. I went on the VW site and it actually has 5 shots and it is the plant in the background. From the angle of the second and third photos, it shows the solar park surrounded by forest.

http://www.media.vw.com/image-gallery.do;jsessionid=6282A7AFC77F32B913668180682DF2CA?&imageGalleryId=129&method=view

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 03:39 PM

3. Wow! Cool. Forwarding thinking CEO's. Lucky Tennessee. A step toward a healthier climate and life

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 07:59 AM

5. I would really love to see

them design and make a vw Beetle with its own solar panel on top. Am I the only one that says... build gas autos = bad, solar campus on which to do it = good, oxymoron?

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:49 AM

8. VW diesel Jettas get 50+mpg,

just as good as Priuses but without the batteries.

They will also run on biodiesel fuels such as canola oil, at least in the summer or in warm climates, and you can cut fossil diesel fuel with canola/soil/processed restaurant grease for use in the winter. Some people have put in modifications that pre-heat the veggie oil so you can run all year on it.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:57 AM

10. Don't imagine the panel would actually make the car move

In full sunlight you'll get maybe a few hundred watts per square meter in electricity, at best. There's just not enough power density in sunlight to provide much of the energy needed to move a vehicle of the size and mass of a typical car. What you're really talking about is a standard plug-in EV that might get some small supplement from its own onboard panel; it then becomes a question of the engineering and cost tradeoffs involved in adding the panel relative to the potential "free" energy it brings in.

If you look at the cars in solar car races, you'll find that they are extremely lightweight, carry little more than the driver and rely on sophisticated charging and power management strategies for success.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 11:59 AM

11. Do you know how much electrical power a car needs if it is 100% electrical?

Article on "Well to Wheel" efficiency, and points out that while from plug in to use Electrical vehicles are more efficient by a factor or 3, if you look at it from the Well to use, it is dead even given the greater loss of energy just producing the electricity AND the loss of electricity as it is used to charge the batteries (Thus direct wire hookups, as used on LRVs and Trolley-buses exceed both diesel powered vehicles AND Hybrids that rely on batteries).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well-to-wheel#Well-to-wheel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_vehicle

Article on Solar Powered Vehicles:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_vehicle

The volt carries on it 16.5 Kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity storage capacity. As a test people installed Solar Panels on a Prius and was able to produce 215 watt per hour and thus extend the electrical range about 20 miles per day (Given that the power is used up in 20 minutes in a Prius that is NOT much).

http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/features-specs/options.html

Please note the Volt has an electricity only range of 38 miles, almost twice as far as the Prius , thus will the addition of the Solar Panel we are talking about 58-60 miles tops. Given that most trips are below 50 miles, may be sufficient. For people who need longer range (for example, the population Center in my County is 20 miles away from the County seat, where the court house is located, thus I have to travel 40-50 miles a day on any day I have to go to the courthouse PLUS my commute from my home, thus something with a 58-60 miles range, WHEN IT IS SUNNY, 38 on all other days is not usable by me. The better option for me would be a high mileage small engine car, like the Chevrolet Cruze.

In short, except in areas with more sunny days then over cast days (Southern California and other desert areas), the addition of a Solar Panel on top of an electric car will probably NEVER pay for itself, and worse due to the additional weight being hauled around, may actually reduce the range of the vehicle on overcast days or if one drives at night (Through this excess weight van be neutralized if you make the car panels the solar panels, increase the cost of such body parts, but minimize the gain in weight).

Furthermore of marginal use in any vehicle that goes more then 50 miles a day, for example tractor-trailers. Great Idea, been done, but if you look at the numbers of marginal usability. Possible to go clear across the US is a Solar Powered car, at 20 mph and travel only during daylight hours (and then in the summer without A/C, see wikipedia above that mention that this is possible). The problem is NOT that installing Solar Panels in a Car is possible, the question is such an installation worth it? Unless people start to accept lower performance in vehicles (i.e. fully willing to go 20 mph on the interstates) the answer is NO. On the other hand if people are willing to accept such reduction in performance, then it is a possibility (but then, human powered vehicles, i.e bicycles, may just pass such solar power vehicles up). I am afraid the Solar power vehicle is headed for the worse possible of graveyards, Caught between two technologies that it is superior to it in some ways, but in their own niche Superior to Solar Powered Cars.

Being Caught between two other technology is a graveyard, The best known example of this is the Stirling engine. The Sterling was a more efficient external combustion engine that could burn anything but losses out to the Steam Engine (And the later Steam Turbine) when heavy power was required AND to animal power (and the internal combustion engine) when constant power was NOT needed but some power was needed. The Sterling is still is use, but in very narrow range of uses due to the fact what it can do well, no one else can do as well, but people who want to be able to use MORE POWER OR QUICK Power on demand, opt for some other power source.

Solar Powered Cars seems to be heading down that same road, not enough power being generated to compete with charging based electrical system as in the Prius and the Volt, but requiring more care and money then riding a bicycle on the other end of the spectrum. It may survive as a supplement to a charging based system as on the Volt, but even they it will be marginal except in desert areas.

One of the problems would be a better option then Solar Panels on the Car, would be to park the car in a Garage with solar panels on the Garage. Such a Garage would provide more area for the Solar Panels and when the car is out, the electrical panels on the Garage can charge the house or some other electrical storage system till the car comes back and gets plugged back in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine

http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/features-specs/options.html

Just some comments why the Solar Car will always be with us, and will always be a "Few years aways". It is headed for a very narrow niche that people in that niche will opt for plug in or bicycles instead due to each covering the niche (poorly compared to the Solar powered cars, but covering it) AND covering their own niche without even a threat of the Solar Powered car competing in their niche. This is what happened to the Sterling engine and I am afraid the Solar Powered Car is headed for the problems the Sterling faced, caught between two Superior technologies, each capable of doing the niche the Sterling (and today the Solar power car) was in, but poorly, but the Sterling (and the Solar powered Car) doing even worse when used in the niche of the other two technologies.

Note on The Chevrolet Cruze and Volt, both were developed at the same time, to use the maximum number of interchangeable body, frame and interior parts. For every Volt GM intends to sell it plans to sell 10 Cruzes (And this seems to be the numbers GM is operating in, GM sell roughly 10-11 Cruzes to every Volt). In fact if you look at a Cruze and a Volt and ignore the paint job that says one is a Volt, you can NOT tell the difference from the outside OR even riding it. The exteriors and interiors are the same. The difference is in the engine, transmission and Trunk. The Cruze comes with a 1.7 liter engine, the Volt a 1.4 liter back up engine (if you opt for the Eco version of the Cruze, you get the same 1.4 liter engine as used in the Volt, but it is Turbocharged in the Eco). The Volt uses its engine to re-charge the battery when they run low, thus is nothing more then a generator, thus does not need to be turbocharged. The Cruze has a much larger trunk, for the simple reason the Volt's Batteries had to go some place. The transmission is front wheel drive in both vehicles, direct electric battery drive in the Volt, through a transmission in the Cruze.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #11)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:11 PM

13. I dream of the day when pv collection will be done by the entire vehicle body by

a nice light weight material that will collect rays upside down and backwards, if you get my drift. NC recently enacted a law and don't quote me but, ~stealing cooking oil is now a felony. I could live with diesel if I had someone here to help me cure and process my own oil in the barn or just out under the stars. I can think of a lot of things one can do with preheated oil. That too is a dream of mine. When you are solo it just becomes all about minimalism. Peace. lmsp

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 12:30 PM

6. Nuclear? Nein, Danke!

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 09:07 AM

7. It only covers 12.5% of the energy the plant will use.

But, I guess it's a start.

Put solar panels on every roof in America and think what we could accomplish.

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Response to fasttense (Reply #7)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:32 PM

12. 12.5% during productino, 100% during non-production hours.

That's a pretty significant step in the right direction.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:28 PM

15. I had already decided to seriously look at Volkswagen for my next car

and this just reinforces that decision

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:49 PM

16. Interesting "Sequel" to the TVA Project

 

Better sunlight than water. Dams ruin rivers and the fish that live in them.
.
.


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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:23 AM

17. Is it a grid tie? Must be. Nt

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:52 AM

18. Wonder what their quality control is like at the plant itself

They could save MUCH more energy by bringing better quality control to the entire plant. Reducing the number of vehicles that, say, have to be repainted or the number of engine blocks that have to be scrapped and remade, etc. can do much more to reduce energy usage than clearing acre after acre of forested land for solar panels.

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