Ford joins automakers tapping into solar power image

The No.2 US automaker has long been an advocate of electrically operated vehicles and it now wants to further boost its eco plans through the installment of a massive new solar array, located just outside its suburban Detroit headquarters.

Automakers have started turning to solar energy production for their office buildings and manufacturing facilities. For example, General Motors has gone as far as to use the sun produced energy to charge its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids after they are assembled. Volkswagen is using the solar energy to power parts of its huge assembly factory in Tennessee. Ford, meanwhile, has a “living roof” covered with 11 different species of plants at its Dearborn Truck facility.

The company has “a deep commitment to sustainability,” says Chairman Bill Ford Jr. The automaker’s “beliefs are embodied in this project,” he added.

Ford’s new solar array is built together with local power supplier DTE Energy and should become the largest in Michigan and the second-biggest in the Midwest, with an area of 360 parking spaces in front of the “Glass House” headquarters. The 1.038 megawatts of energy projected power production could satisfy the needs of 158 average-sized homes, with some of the energy produced used by some 30 electric car-charging stations. Dubbed the “Solar Currents”, the facility should start producing energy in 2015.