Clean solar power for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 17, 2010

Envision Solar has been chosen to install General Motors’ CleanCharge solar powered electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations integrated into EnvisionTrak tracking Solar Trees at several sites. This is a highly engineered parking lot solar array that is 20 to 25% more productive than conventional fixed solar arrays.

The Solar Tree with EnvisionTrak is capable of dual access tracking which means that the canopy can follow the sun all day. Bob Noble, CEO of Envision Solar, expressed his pleasure at having been chosen by General Motors for these installations that will “enable Chevy Volts to leverage clean solar power to recharge their batteries without relying on carbon fuel generated electricity.”

Noble also wanted to commend the commitment that GM has shown to clean energy and green job creation. In November 2010, the Chevy Volt extended-range electric car is expected to arrive at showrooms in California, Michigan, Washington, D.C., Texas and New York. This model will hit showrooms in New Jersey and Connecticut in mid-2011.

While most of the charging stations will be placed in consumer garages, driveways and carports, around 18 stations will be installed in and around the Renaissance Center. Two of these charging stations were placed in front of GM's headquarters, just right at the building's entrance at Jefferson Ave.

These 18 charging stations will be operational within the next week. On the other hand, GM also installed charging stations for employee use in Michigan -- including 34 units at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly site and 140 in homes of employees who are driving early-build Volts for quality evaluation. Interestingly, solar energy is bound to power a number of charging stations placed at GM sites.

For instance, photovoltaic systems from SunLogics Inc. powers around 10 charging stations at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly center. Envision Solar International, meanwhile, will provide its Solar Tree with EnvisionTrak system at GM's Warren Technical Center and Milford Proving Ground.

In 2007, GM inked a partnership with DTE, Consumers Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute and over 50 other utilities, as the carmaker saw a need to place charging stations both for the public and at the workplace. A number of these utilities are or will be initiating similar programs in order to ready customers for electrification.

The United States Department of Energy has chosen nine regions in the country to lead the electrification movement, one of which is the state of Michigan. Free home charging stations – as provided by ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies -- will be made available to around 4,400 Volt owners through a program sponsored by the DOE.

Press Release

Michigan Readies as the U.S. Prepares for Electric Vehicles

More than 5,300 home and workplace charging stations are planned to be installed in Michigan as the state prepares for the introduction of new electric vehicle technology. General Motors and its partners are teaming up to help give Chevrolet Volt buyers more options for charging their vehicles.

DTE Energy pledges to install 2,500 240V home charging stations for plug-in vehicles, and Consumers Energy is matching that pledge. The utilities will cover up to $2,500 of the cost of the charging station and installation. GM's Voltec 240 V home charging station is priced at just $490 plus an estimated $1,475 for installation. The city of Lansing Board of Water and Light will provide an additional 25 charging stations to its customers and by the end of 2011, General Motors plans to have almost 350 charging stations in place for employees at its facilities in Michigan, with more than 100 already installed.

In addition, more than 1,500 Chevrolet dealers across the U.S. plan to install charging stations for use by customers. This number includes nearly 650 dealers that will soon begin selling the Volt in retail launch markets and approximately 900 others across the country that are authorized to provide service.

More important than the total volume of charging stations is where they will be located, according to Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, Global Product Operations. "Since our homes may soon be our fueling stations of the future we believe the most important way to make communities 'plug-in ready' is by enabling residential charging."

Most of these stations will be placed in consumers' garages, carports and driveways. A few will be strategically located, such as the two GM placed in front of its headquarters at the Renaissance Center at the building's entrance off of Jefferson Ave in Detroit. A total of 18 charging stations will be operational in and around the Renaissance Center within the next week.

GM-installed charging stations for use by its employees in Michigan will include 34 at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly center where the Volt is built and 140 in the homes of employees driving early-build models for quality evaluation.

Many of the stations at GM facilities will be powered by renewable solar energy. The Detroit-Hamtramck assembly center already has 10 stations in place powered by photovoltaic systems from SunLogics Inc. Envision Solar International will provide its innovative Solar Tree® with EnvisionTrak™ system for use at the Warren Technical Center and Milford Proving Ground.

GM envisioned the need for public and workplace charging stations in 2007 when it formed a collaboration with DTE, Consumers Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute and more than 50 other utilities. Many of those utilities are or will be launching similar programs to help customers prepare for electrification.

Michigan is one of nine regions in the United States identified by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead the electrification movement. Free home charging stations provided by ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies will be available to 4,400 eligible Volt owners through a program funded by the DOE.

"We've put a lot of thought into the best way to enhance the electric vehicle experience," Stephens said. "We've focused on everything from vehicle-to-grid technical interfaces, codes and standards to leading consumer education and outreach."

In fact, the Society of Engineers-approved industry standard for charging equipment was led by a GM engineer. And GM's Opel subsidiary recently announced a vehicle-to-grid experiment in Germany involving a battery electric version of the Opel Meriva.

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