11 March 2011

Ford sees solar solutions with new DTE program

Ford and DTE Energy have teamed up to implement a more green energy source at the auto maker's manufacturing complex in Wayne. The duo recently installed solar panels that are expected to generate roughly 500 kilowatts of power.

The new solar panels were installed in front of Ford's Wayne Assembly Plant and will fuel production at the adjacent Michigan Assembly Plant.

The electricity supply manager of Ford said the solar panels will save the company about $160,000 annually. The entire energy-saving project totals about $5.8-million.

Although the new solar panels will render only a small portion of the 20 megawatts of electricity demanded by the plant on an annual basis, the supply manager is confident that the investment will save Ford money in the long run. Such savings will enable Ford to produce renewable energy and experiment with battery-powered parts for auto transport vehicles.

Additionally, the new panels will be feed a 750-kilowatt energy-storage system as well as contribute to 10 new electric-vehicle charging stations at Michigan Assembly. The charging stations will recharge on-site electrical vehicles that transport auto parts to and from various buildings at the manufacturing site.

"These new investments should help us cut overhead costs in a number of ways." said a spokesperson for the company. "Our reliance on auto transport companies being one of the major areas of savings," he added.

Ford's current project is part of DTE Energy's SolarCurrents program, and the newly installed solar panels are owned by the utility.

The overall goal of DTE is to work with various corporations throughout southeastern Michigan to install enough panels over the next five years to produce 15 megawatts of electricity. The utility provider is seeing opportunities with all sorts of business, ranging from microfiber cloth manufacturers to others in the auto industry.

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