July 8, 2008 / 12:36 PM / 10 years ago

GM Europe puts solar roof on Spanish plant

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - U.S. carmaker General Motors has fitted solar panels on the roof of its Zaragoza assembly plant in Spain, creating the world’s largest rooftop source of power from the sun.

Visitors take pictures of Chevrolet Volt electric concept car at the Auto China 2008 show in Beijing April 20, 2008. The car is scheduled to go into industrial scale production in 2010 and is designed to run entirely on electricity. But it is also equipped with a normal combustion engine should it run out of power. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA)

The 10 megawatt photovoltaic power generator constructed by Veolia Environnement and Clairvoyant Energy has a surface area of 183,000 square metres and 85,000 light solar modules, GM Europe (GME.L) said in a statement.

The pilot project should go onstream at the end of September, and, if successful, could lead to others on GME’s 10 other assembly plants as well as its component factories.

“With its annual capacity of 15.1 million kilowatt-hours, the Zaragoza plant rooftop solar power station could one day supply the renewable energy for operating more than 4,500 GM Extended Range Electric Vehicles for an entire year in a typical European work commuters’ cycle,” GME President Carl-Peter Forster said.

GM’s Volt car, which is scheduled to go into industrial scale production in 2010, is designed to run entirely on electricity but is also equipped with a normal combustion engine should it run out of power, called an “extended range electric vehicle”.

The solar roof at the Zaragoza plant, where GM builds the Opel Corsa, Meriva and Combo models, will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 6,700 tonnes per year.

The electricity it generates will be fed into a Red Electrica power grid and sold to Spain’s Endesa, GME said.

Volkswagen is planning to equip the roof of its massive Wolfsburg assembly plant in Germany with a photovoltaic energy system after already installing a small version at its Emden site.

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