Aug 02

Two Chevrolet dealers are GM’s first to get solar plug-in car charging canopies

 

Working under General Motors’ “Green Zone Initiative,” a California and a Michigan Chevrolet dealership each recently installed solar charging stations to offset costs and up their commitment to renewable energy.

Modeled on the solar canopy at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, the dealers’ canopies will be capable of fully charging up to 12 Chevrolet Volts per day, or up to 4,500 charges annually.

The first dealerships to install the canopies – at no cost to themselves – were American Chevrolet in Modesto, Calif., and Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, Mich.


Energy from the sun makes charging the Volt an environmentally cleaner proposition. Excess energy is sold back to the grid.

“The question isn’t whether to install a solar canopy, it’s where and how many,” said Joe Serra, president of Serra Automotive. “It’s a win for us because the electricity generated will help reduce operating costs, and it’s a win for the environment since solar power helps reduce our carbon footprint.”

The Green Zone Initiative is part of GM Ventures’ recent announcement to invest $7.5 million in solar panel manufacturing and development company, Sunlogics.

Sunlogics PLC is a vertically-integrated global solar energy systems provider specializing in solar project development and installation. The scope of the company’s current projects and operations includes Canada, the United States, Europe and China.


In one shot: From the sun to photovoltaic panels to end user. The canopy also happens to fit aesthetically with existing architecture.

Each of the Chevrolet dealers partnered with Sunlogics for its “Green Zone.”

“The beauty of this program is that there is no capital cost required from the dealership,” said Dave Halvorson, president of American Chevrolet in Modesto. “Not only do we generate the solar energy to increase our reliance on renewable electricity, but the Green Zone is a billboard of our commitment to the environment.”


Sort of a bird’s eye view

As part of its investment, GM has committed to double its global solar output from 30 megawatts to 60 megawatts per year by 2015, and the dealership solar chargers are a step in that direction.

“Just one of these canopies provides enough renewable energy to power two to three homes per year, or more than 25 percent of a dealership’s energy consumption,” said Perry. “Collectively, that will be a lot of power we are putting back into the grid.”


Presented with subsidized solar, the canopies’ marketing and PR value was seen as a no-brainer, as charging for more EVs is expected to increase.

A request for information from a GM spokesperson including questions of how many more dealerships will get solar canopies, at what pace will they come online, what each would have cost, and more, were not returned yesterday.

Otherwise, GM says 1.4 percent of its U.S. energy consumption is derived from renewable resources.

“GM is the leading user of renewable energy in automotive manufacturing. It has three of the largest automotive rooftop solar power installations in the United States, and the world’s largest rooftop solar installation at its car assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain,” GM said. “Additionally, GM has started construction on a new solar field at its Detroit-Hamtramck facility and completed construction on a solar array on top of its Baltimore Operations facility.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 34


  1. 1
    Raymondjram

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (7:06 am)

    There is a solar charging facility, just like the one in the photo, in my home city of Bayamon, Puerto Rico. It was put into service April 2010, before GM has this project. The first, and probably the only customer for now, is a red Tesla Roadster which belongs to the owner of the company that built it. The municipal administration placed it as a technology showcase for other energy projects, but I believe that it was too early, since there are no other registered EV on the island. GM has not included Puerto Rico for the 2012 model year distribution, so Nissan will get a foothold sooner, since the Governor has publicly announced the acceptance of the Leaf, and drove a demo unit.

    Here is the local newspaper article (in Spanish) about the Nissan Leaf arrival, and a mention about the solar charging station in Bayamon. The article describes that it can generate 2,190 Kwatts per day:
    http://www.elnuevodia.com/llegaelautoelectricodenissan-932468.html

    And here is a recent study by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute that shows why Puerto Rico needs electric vehicles. It has an interview of the Governor with the Nissan EV (in English and Spanish) and some photos:

    http://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-050311-202832/unrestricted/EV_Team_IQP_Report.pdf

    Come on, GM! Start selling Volts here! The other manufacturers will get a big head start. If I had my Volt, I would use this local charging station and become part of the local news, which will help sell more Volts!

    Raymond


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    fishhawk

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (7:45 am)

    I like the idea, but the Voltec Chargestations seem misplaced. The cord is being dragged to far, even under the car as shown in the first photo. Seems like there could have been a better placement of this stations.


  3. 3
    Roy_H

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (7:53 am)

    Raymondjram,

    Islands are ideal places for BEVs. Providing the BEV can drive end to end on one charge. Tesla fits the bill, but is expensive. LEAF would need 1 charge on the trip. I think GM should make a pure BEV version of the Volt, with more batteries replacing the ICE. If they got the range up to about 150 miles it would be perfect for Puerto Rico. This capability will come in the next few years from multiple manufacturers, then Puerto Rico can become completely gas free!


  4. 4
    Raymondjram

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (8:13 am)

    Roy_H,

    The study I linked above shows that most Puerto Ricans (60%) travel less than 40 miles a day (I am one) and any of the present EVs on the market will be sufficient.

    On page 56 of that study is the more detailed description of the Bayamon charging project, with three ChargePoint stations. Read the study and see how the presented information may apply to other territories, states and nations.

    Raymond


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    kdawg

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (8:31 am)

    With the solar canopies being cost neutral to the dealer, I’m sure they are all asking for them.
    It’s also a good way to get customers back into the dealership. Everytime they stop for a charge, they can try to sell them rust-proofing :)

    I would be interested to see the #’s for the canopy in Grand Blanc after 1 year of use and compare it to the one in California.


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    George S. Bower

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (9:17 am)

    fishhawk: I like the idea, but the Voltec Chargestations seem misplaced. The cord is being dragged to far, even under the car as shown in the first photo. Seems like there could have been a better placement of this stations.

    Totally agree. I also think that big VOLT decal on the side of that Volt in in the wrong place too. It should be somewhere it can’t be seen. Really ruins the look of the car IMO.


  7. 7
    George S. Bower

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (9:22 am)

    I like these solar carports. I almost did one but ended up just putting them on the roof to keep costs down.

    Putting the energy production where it will be used is a good idea.

    The following article is a great example:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904233404576462562705511704.html?mod=WSJ_hps_editorsPicks_1

    It’s about a new steel plant in Ohio going in and designed to run on home grown, inexpensive and clean burning natural gas.


  8. 8
    George S. Bower

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (9:49 am)

    Raymondjram,

    Raymond,
    Just curious what the fuel sources for electricity are on the island??
    Thx,
    GSB


  9. 9
    N Riley

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (9:53 am)

    Good report, Jeff. And a shout out to GM for continuing building on the solar plans.


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    Loboc

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (10:38 am)

    Every little bit helps to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

    I’m thinking that Volts kept on the lot will need charging/topped off periodically. I wouldn’t want to get a new car with an empty ‘tank’.

    That’s another advantage for Volt. Ya don’t need to fire up an ICE to move them around on the lot for those weekend specials.


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    stuart22

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (11:02 am)

    It’s a brilliant marketing tool for Chevrolet dealers. It’ll make them stand out and stand apart from other dealers on auto row. Everybody who drives past will notice. It’s the perfect symbol to remind people of the Volt’s green credibility; how there is a clean alternative to oil dependent transportation.

    If I was a building contractor, I’d make an arrangement with the dealer to offer custom built solar carports to Volt buyers.


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    Steverino

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (11:48 am)

    Yes, an odd placement of the cars in relation to the charge cord. If it was me, I’d have parked my car next to the charge station to avoid stretching across a parking spot. Maybe they want to show how long the cord can stretch. You could also park cars with the charge port on the same side as the station. So some cars would face in, some out. Perhaps this violates some sales rule at auto dealers where all cars must point out. In which case, have a charge station mounted on both sides of the other side of the pylon. I also prefer straight cords rather than curled.


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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (11:53 am)

    Lots of stuff to comment about with this article–but I’ll be brief–I like how the height allows for very tall vehicles. Hmmmm…


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    Mark Z

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:01 pm)

    GM must plan ahead and make sure that the panels are hail-resistant rated in some parts of the country. Might help prevent hail damage to the Volts parked under the panels. Sure would be nice to park in the shade during the summer and keep heavy snow from falling on the car in the winter.


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    Chris

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:12 pm)

    I think the next step would be portable pop up shade covers covered in flexible solar panels. It could be stowed in the trunk or stored at work for instant shade and charging.


  16. 16
    Noel Park

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:17 pm)

    N Riley: Good report, Jeff. And a shout out to GM for continuing building on the solar plans.

    #9

    Second the motion. +1


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    Noel Park

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:21 pm)

    Congratulations as well to these “early adopter” dealers. I hope some of our SoCal dealers get with the program soon.

    CorvetteGuy…………………..? Plenty of sunshine in Riverside, right?


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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:24 pm)

    This is a great article… I’ve waited a long time to see this happening… I’d love to see these in our area.

    This is certainly a bright spot in our economy.

    I heard GM has called back some employees which is really good to hear for a change.


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    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:27 pm)

    Oh. I wish we could have a nice new showroom with solar.
    I’m stuck in a building constructed in 1955.
    (((…sigh…)))


  20. 20
    Jackson

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (12:32 pm)

    Real neat. Now, let’s see the dealers offer Volt owners free charging off the sunroofs* whenever they’re in the neighborhood (or will they always have 12 Volts for sale on the lot?).

    It looks like the arrays will charge at the 220V rate (from the coiled cord in the photo). Anybody know for sure?

    In general, I like the idea of solar, but have had to realize that it won’t work everywhere. I’ve fiddled around with sun-recharged path lights and things, and found that the neighbors’ trees block too much light to make a large array practical.

    Also, I happen to like trees.

    *a new definition for ‘sunroof?’ :-)


  21. 21
    Raymondjram

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (1:21 pm)

    George S. Bower,

    We have only two large sources:

    Thermoelectric (about 88 to 90%): There are four fuel-oil burning, steam-powered generators , two one the north coast (I can see one from my office window) , one on the southeast coast, and one on the south central coast. The fule-oil is called “bunker”. When I was an EE student, I visited all four, and saw the southeast generator under construction (around 1973). The manufacturers were Westinghouse and Brown-Boveri. Can that give you a clue?

    Hydroelectric (about 8 to 10%): There are two dams with water turbines, one in the north center (I visited this one once) and one in the south center. My estimate is poor, since I don’t have the right numbers, but I do know that they have not been remodeled or improved, and my belief is that their output has diminished.

    There are several “peakers” around the electrical distribution network. They are huge gas-turbine generators with a few MW each, and come online when the local power draw exceed the fed-in capacity (and to prevent a voltage drop or brownout). I saw and felt one demonstration during my student visit.

    Last, there are a few experimental wind turbines, and maybe a few experimental photoelectric panels, but all together supplying less than 1%. Now there are some private business generating their own electricity and selling their surplus to the authority. And I know that there are many sites with their own windmill generators and photovoltaic panels, including many homes.

    The latest project (mentioned in the study) is a new natural gas pipeline from the southern coast to the north, since there is a large seaport near the southern generator where the transport ships can unload the gas. The conversion from fuel oil to natural gas is supposed to save over 50% of the cost of generated electricity, but most of the residents along the path are protesting and starting lawsuits (health and hazard issues) to prevent the pipe from being laid. I am one of many who don’t believe that this is better than a gradual conversion to renewable sources (more hydroelectric, wind, and solar), but I am not the person who can decide that.

    Raymond


  22. 22
    George S. Bower

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (1:43 pm)

    Raymondjram,

    Interesting input Raymond. NG should help clean up those bunker plants.

    FYI GE makes a really nice CCNG plant that Jeff did and article on at 60% cycle eta.

    http://www.ge-flexibility.com/products/flexefficiency_50_combined_cycle_power_plant/index.jsp

    They also make the same plant in a hybrid form by adding solar and wind and boast a cycle efficiency of 70%.

    http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/ge-teams-up-with-esolar-for-new-hybrid-plant-060711/

    Pretty cool stuff!!


  23. 23
    EVO

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (1:46 pm)

    http://jalopnik.com/149935/gms-futurliner-brings-in-record+setting-45-million-at-barrett+jackson

    So, when’s the GM Volt MegaCrossover coming out? Gotta be better than their tired old full size vans and suvs.

    GM_103_at_Railfair.jpg


  24. 24
    George S. Bower

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    EVO,

    I loved GM EMD E units—very stylish.
    Funny about the bus. I saw that when it sold. Even cooler than an E unit.


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    kdawg

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (2:40 pm)

    Chris: I think the next step would be portable pop up shade covers covered in flexible solar panels. It could be stowed in the trunk or stored at work for instant shade and charging.

    Maybe they could do something like the hard-top covertable that was on the G6. I think that was a $3000 adder. I can’t imagine what the cost of a pop-out solar roof would be, but its an interesting idea. They already have portable solar cells for USB devices.


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    kdawg

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (2:44 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: Oh. I wish we could have a nice new showroom with solar. I’m stuck in a building constructed in 1955. (((…sigh…)))

    There’s a Chevy dealer not far from me that is in the middle of completely remodeling their showroom/dealership. I’m guessing they won’t put up solar cells though. “Green” is the last thing I would associate with this particular dealer.


  27. 27
    montgoss

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (2:50 pm)

    George S. Bower: I also think that big VOLT decal on the side of that Volt in in the wrong place too. It should be somewhere it can’t be seen. Really ruins the look of the car IMO.

    Personal preference. I was actually thinking about shelling out the $250+ to get a decal on my Volt…

    Jackson: Real neat.Now, let’s see the dealers offer Volt owners free charging off the sunroofs* whenever they’re in the neighborhood (or will they always have 12 Volts for sale on the lot?).

    In the little video at the end, the guy actually said any electric vehicle (Volt or not) could charge up for free. More free advertising: “Ya know, if you had a Volt, you wouldn’t be so worried that you only have 20 miles of range left in that battery…” ;-)


  28. 28
    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (3:17 pm)

    The U.S. National Debt is going to grow to 17 Trillion bucks. That should be enough to buy 340 MILLION VOLTs. Enough to give one to every licensed driver in the Northern Hemisphere. Maybe the entire world! How many cars are there in the world anyway?


  29. 29
    George S. Bower

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (3:44 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: The U.S. National Debt is going to grow to 17 Trillion bucks. That should be enough to buy 340 MILLION VOLTs. Enough to give one to every licensed driver in the Northern Hemisphere. Maybe the entire world! How many cars are there in the world anyway?

    Yeh Corvette Guy I like the articles in the WSJ this AM. One titled “Senator and Congressmen in both parties not happy with the deal”.

    Too bad. Breaks my heart. Poor babies. I guess if you can’t have it your way (be it far left or far right) there is just no way to give in. The other thing is every single republican presidential candidate voted AGAINST the bill. The repubs should get Boehner to run for prez cuz they sure don’t have a candidate yet.


  30. 30
    RB

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (7:17 pm)

    OT—

    I’m in central NC and was trying today to get some Chevrolet dealer somewhere around here to give me an idea of how to order, or prices, or when delivery might be expected, all with no luck. No one has any Volts yet, most of the people at dealerships don”t know anything about anything, and basically there doesn’t seem to be much interest in selling cars that have to be ordered. The few Volts that are around come mostly from an enterprising dealer in Mooresville, NC, who has been sending staff members to other states to buy cars and drive them back. Highly unusual. Mostly same old gm.

    In the meantime, the newspaper says the one local Nissan dealer has 127 orders for Leafs, not counting people with reservations. The same article said a Chevrolet dealer said they had gotten a couple of requests for information. There would be more, I’m sure, with a little encouragement to prospective customers.

    The good part is that the power company seems to have received a couple of dozen Volts, so if you are well connected, something is happening.


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    Sean

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (7:34 pm)

    Hey look what I found on CNN I’m sure you’ll get a good laugh at this one and I do hope it happens for real are you ready here’s the article enjoy everybody. http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/02/honore.debt.politicians/index.html?hpt=po_t2


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    George S. Bower

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (9:45 pm)

    RB quote:

    OT—

    “”I’m in central NC and was trying today to get some Chevrolet dealer somewhere around here to give me an idea of how to order, or prices, or when delivery might be expected, all with no luck. No one has any Volts yet, most of the people at dealerships don”t know anything about anything,”"

    Good one RB, but can you imagine how much worse it could be if you lived in SC??


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    George S. Bower

     

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (9:48 pm)

    Sean: Hey look what I found on CNN I’m sure you’ll get a good laugh at this one and I do hope it happens for real are you ready here’s the article enjoy everybody. http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/02/honore.debt.politicians/index.html?hpt=po_t2

    Read it.
    Totally agree.


  34. 34
    Raymondjram

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    Aug 2nd, 2011 (10:12 pm)

    As to end my posts on solar chargers in Puerto Rico, I have the link to the Bayamon solar charger site by the builder:
    http://www.aireko.com/documents/AirekoPVNews.pdf

    Raymond