Ford, DTE Energy fueling production plants with solar energy storage system

Dearborn, Mich., March 11, 2011 The primary part of one of Michigan's largest solar power generation systems at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant is now up and running, delivering renewable energy to help power the production of fuel-efficient small cars.

The system is the result of collaboration between Ford, DTE Energy, Xtreme Power, the city of Wayne and the state of Michigan.

The renewable energy captured by the energy system will help power the production of Ford's all-new Focus set to hit showrooms this month. The plant will also produce Focus Electric, Ford's first zero-emission battery electric passenger vehicle and the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

The solar energy system will serve as a pilot alternative energy project to be evaluated for possible use at other Ford manufacturing facilities in the future. A secondary, smaller solar energy system will be integrated at Michigan Assembly to power lighting systems at the plant.

Energy storage

Ford collaborated with DTE Energy to install the 500-KW solar photovoltaic panel system at Michigan Assembly. The system will be integrated with a 750-KW energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries — enough to power 100 average Michigan homes for a year.

The project will also include a 50-kWh facility to demonstrate the potential reuse of vehicle electric batteries for stationary energy storage. Xtreme Power of Austin, Texas, is supplying its Dynamic Power Resource on-site energy storage and power management system.

The solar energy installation is part of DTE Energy's pilot SolarCurrents program that calls for photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer rooftops or property over the next five years to generate 15 MW of electricity throughout southeast Michigan.

The Michigan Assembly project is funded by a $3 million investment from DTE Energy's SolarCurrents program, a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission in support of the state's smart-grid initiative, and approximately $800,000 worth of in-kind contributions from Ford.

Solar power will also charge electric vehicle batteries

Ford will install 10 electric vehicle charging stations at Michigan Assembly to demonstrate advanced battery charging technologies for vehicles using renewable energy and other smart-grid advances.

The stations will be used to recharge the electric switcher trucks that transport vehicle parts between adjacent buildings at the manufacturing site. Part of the pilot project involves a demonstration of the possibility for using electrified vehicle batteries as stationary power storage devices after their useful life as vehicle power sources is over.

Sustainable energy use

Michigan Assembly will operate on a blend of renewable and conventional electricity. Renewable energy collected by the solar system will go into the plant's electrical distribution system to help provide power.

When the plant is inactive, the collected solar energy will go into the Dynamic Power Resource storage system for later use, providing power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight.

Michigan Assembly's energy storage system will be able to recharge from the smart grid during off-peak hours when energy is available at a lower cost.

This in turn can provide inexpensive power during peak operating hours when the cost per kWh is usually higher, and can help reduce peak demand on the grid.

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