GM’s Spain plant to go solar
Solar cell arrays on houses are commonly a handful of kilowatts, or thousandths of a megawatt. On big commercial buildings, installations of one or two megawatts have become common. A one-megawatt installation will run about 1,000 window air-conditioners simultaneously, at least as long as the sun is shining. Energy Conversion Devices has planned to solarize the General Motors assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain. The project will be putting out 12 megawatts, a huge number in a field where most arrays are measured in kilowatts. The project will use solar devices manufactured in rolls, like carpet runners. Installation will be completed this fall, according to the company, which is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan Energy Conversion will supply the equipment to Veolia Environment and Clairvoyant Energy, which will lease the rooftop space from GM and own and operate the installation, which will be two million square feet.
The company did not say what the Zaragoza installation would cost. Considering Spain offers generous subsidies, 66 cents a kilowatt-hour. That is about five times the average cost of a kilowatt hour to residential customers in the United States. The Spanish government is considering a reduction in the subsidy for installations after September. Energy Conversion plans to produce about 150 megawatts of cells this year.