Volkswagen AG has powered up its largest solar park worldwide in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The carmaker’s largest photo-voltaic installation, occupying around 33 acres, sits next to its plant in Chattanooga, where it builds the Passat mid-sized sedan for the United States market. The solar park now supplies 13 percent of the plant’s energy needs during production hours, Volkswagen said.
Frank Fischer, head of VW's Chattanooga operations, described the installation as the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America. According to Volkswagen, the plant, which could produce 9.5 megawatts of electric power, will supply all the plant's electricity needs when manufacturing lines are not operating.
The Chattanooga plant, which was launched in May 2011, is the first in the industry with top-level platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, an environmental group that assesses properties on how well they limit effects on the environment. Silicon Ranch Corp. will own the solar park and sell the electricity to Volkswagen under a 20-year supply deal.
According to the carmaker, German company Phoenix Solar AG built the photo-voltaic system. Volkswagen’s main plant in Wolfsburg and a site in Emden, Germany also harness electric power from solar plants.