General Motors has taken a number of significant steps to make their vehicles greener, and they are doing similar things with their manufacturing plants, as well. This week, the company has made two announcements about using rooftop solar arrays to power its manufacturing facilities.
The Detroit–Hamtramck plant, which produces the Chevy Volt, will be having a 516 kilowatt solar array installed on six acres of land on the south side of the plant as part of a cooperative venture with the local electrical utility company, DTE. Using power from the solar array is expected to save GM $15,000 per year.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded 3M $4.4 million as part of DOE’s SunShot Initiative. SunShot aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent, so that they are cost-competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies. SunShot calls for achieving this goal by the end of the decade. The sum of the 3M award is estimated at $4.4 million over three years.
The goal of 3M’s project is to accelerate efforts toward further development and commercialization of 3M™ Ultra Barrier Solar Film. The funding will support a reliability test program to validate the lifetime performance of the film as well as development of second-generation 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film with enhanced performance and reduced costs.
As part of the initiative, 3M will collaborate with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to test the performance and durability of Ultra Barrier Solar Films. NREL recently confirmed moisture vapor transmission rates in the range of 2*10-5 – 8*10-5 g/m2/day for 3M’s current Ultra Barrier Film 9L product using its electrically based calcium moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) test. “Technology for economical production of transparent barrier films has been a missing link in the flexible CIGS photovoltaic supply chain for a long time, and we are looking forward to working with 3M in the development of this technology,” says NREL senior scientist Mike Kempe.
“We are delighted that DOE has recognized the relevance of 3M’s Ultra Barrier Solar Film toward achieving its goals for driving down the cost of solar,” says Derek DeScioli, business development manager for the 3M Renewable Energy Division. “High-efficiency flexible solar modules manufactured with 3M’s Film not only have the potential to significantly reduce the total system costs for rooftop solar installations, but also have an array of niche applications where our customers can take advantage of the unique module form factor.”
Designed to address the needs of flexible thin film solar manufacturers, 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film acts as a replacement for glass with high light transmission, moisture barrier performance and strong weatherability.
A new study published in the journal Energy Policy says that we could achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, and not just U.S., but the world. The study says that we have access to all the necessary technology, but strong political would have to exist for it to happen.
So, how can we get to 100 percent renewables by 2030? Well, to be exact, the study says we’ll need:
- four million 5 MW wind turbines,
- 1.7 billion 3 kW roof-mounted solar PV systems,
- 90,000 300 MW solar power plants (including PV and concentrated solar), and
- a smattering of geothermal, wave and tidal power plants.