Volkswagen AG wins the “Big Green” trophy of the week for its latest technological breakthrough in Chattanooga, Tenn. Reports indicate that the German automaker has given the green light to the largest solar power installation at any U.S. car factory. The 33-acre Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park will produce the equivalent number of gigawatt hours of electricity per year to power 1,200 homes.
VW solar park a marvel of energy efficiency
A massive array of 33,600 solar modules at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park is designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity each year. Not only would that supply the necessary annual power for 1,200 area homes, but it meets 12.5 percent of the plant’s needs during a full production cycle. During non-production periods, the solar array can provide 100 power for the factory.
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The 1.9 million-square-foot VW solar park, where the VW Passat sedan is built, is not only the largest of its kind in Tennessee for any industry and the largest at any U.S. automotive plant, but it is Volkswagen’s largest anywhere in the world. It employs over 3,000 people.
Volkswagen pride in LEED Platinum certification
In late 2011, the Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park was honored by the U.S. Green Building Council with the organization’s top prize, LEED Platinum certification. Called “the world’s greenest auto plant,” the VW plant was the first plant to receive such an honor, and it remains the only one worldwide.
Rather than selling generated electricity back to utilities, VW plans to use 100 percent of the electricity from the polycrystalline solar modules on Unirac rack mounts to power the Chattanooga plant. According to Volkswagen Group of America CEO Frank Fischer, the solar park project is an example of the automaker’s commitment to the environment.
“We are proud to power up the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America today. The solar park is another proof point of Volkswagen’s worldwide commitment to environmental protection under its ‘Think Blue’ factory philosophy,” said Fischer. “(It’s) a broadly focused initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials and water and produce less waste and emissions.”
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