Michigan — People often talk about electricity technologies like solar and wind as alternatives to oil. Actually, oil is hardly used for electricity production – deploying renewable electricity devices won’t cut petroleum use. Unless, of course, you move toward electric vehicles that are manufactured and charged with clean electrons.
Ford has taken one small-but-important step in this direction. The company said this week that it’s going to install a 500-kW solar PV system with a 750-kW back-up storage facility at a plant in Michigan. The plant will be used to manufacture the Focus and the new Focus electric hybrid that is being released in 2012.
The Michigan utility Detroit Edison is installing the system, and the energy storage company Xtreme Power is installing the back-up power management system. (Late last month, Xtreme got $29 million from venture investors in a series C round of funding).
Ford said the project is designed to make the manufacturing plant a “smart car plant,” that will have more control over how and when it uses power. While the solar system is small, Ford plans to add on to the facility in the near future.
Ford is also installing 10 charging stations at the facility to test batteries and better understand how to use renewable energy to keep a fleet of cars charged.
If we actually want to use renewables like wind and solar to move away from oil, projects like this will help us get there one step at a time.