GM Is Driven to Maintain Solar Leadership


General Motors announces plans to add 3 acres of new solar arrays at two of its Michigan facilities. This will bring GM’s solar power capacity to 38 MW at 13 facilities around the world.

What’s as American as General Motors? Solar power, of course!

The car manufacturer, already a top corporate and auto industry solar adopter, is adding 3 acres of new solar arrays at two of its Michigan facilities.


The company’s processing center in Swartz Creek and engine plant in Flint will feature 150 kW ground-mount solar arrays. They’re expected to provide a combined 400,000 kWh of renewable energy per year to the facilities’ grids — which would be enough to power 25 homes annually. Though GM didn’t mention this, it ‘s also the equivalent of taking 58 cars off the roads each year.


The projects are expected to be completed this fall. They will bring GM’s solar power capacity to 38 MW at 13 facilities around the world. Combined with other renewable power sources used by GM, the new installations will bring the company closer to reaching its goal of using 125 MW of renewable energy globally by 2020.


The company is well aware of the many benefits solar confers, including both economic and less tangible advantages. “Ever since our first solar array in 2006, GM has realized the benefits of renewable energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global renewable energy manager. “Not only does it reduce our emissions and lessen our dependence on petroleum, it makes a statement about the role businesses can play in securing a cleaner energy future.”


GM announced its plans for the installations this week in Boston at PV America East. Conference organizers Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) recognized GM with a Project of Distinction Award — the highest achievement for a PV solar project — for the integrated solar microgrid system at the company’s plant in Baltimore.


GM, OnStar, and energy service company TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. partnered on the installation. They combined aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid, operated by PJM Interconnection. The site also is home to a 1.237 MW rooftop solar array. One of the largest in Maryland, it generates nearly 6% of the facility’s electric consumption.


“Through collaboration and innovation, GM, OnStar, PJM and TimberRock have teamed up to give Americans a peek into the future,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “The advanced solar microgrid at GM’s Baltimore site is a state-of-the-art union of electric vehicle, solar power and battery storage technologies. This project’s unique vehicle-to-grid integration, utilizing a solar microgrid, makes it a worthy recipient of the 2014 Project of Distinction Award.”


According to SEIA, GM leads all automakers in the number of solar installations in the U.S. and ranks among the top U.S. corporate solar users in 2013 and 2012. SEIA named GM a Solar Champion for the company’s significant impact on establishing a strong solar industry.


Some of GM’s other U.S. solar installations:


  • A 1.8 MW installation at Toledo Transmission, Ohio’s largest rooftop array

  • A 1 MW array at its Rancho Cucamonga, California distribution center, the nation’s first 1 MW public solar project

  • A 516 kW installation at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Michigan’s largest ground-mount solar array

  • A 900 kW rooftop array on GM’s Fontana, California parts distribution warehouse

  • A 350 kW ground-mount array at Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Michigan

  • A 49 kW ground-mount array at GM’s Technical Center in Warren, Michigan