How Volkswagen Turns Tennessee Sunshine Into Passats
By Doug Newcomb
Volkswagen has been dedicated to getting solar power at its plants around the world, and now it can stake a claim to the single largest solar installation of any automotive manufacturing facility in the U.S. at the company’s compound in Chattanooga. And it’s also VW’s largest photovoltaic array anywhere in the world.
During a dedication ceremony at the site this week, VW executives, the designer and builder of the sprawling solar power complex and local dignitaries flipped a ceremonial giant light switch to mark the official opening of the Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park. It occupies 33 acres, or half of a 66-acre parcel adjacent to VW’s massive Tennessee manufacturing plant that covers 1.9 million square feet, employs more than 3,000 people and produces the Passat sedan.
The solar park includes 33,600 solar modules designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, equal to the energy consumed annually by approximately 1,200 homes in the area, according to VW. The automaker says that the electricity produced by the solar park is estimated to supply 12.5 percent of the Chattanooga manufacturing plant’s energy needs during full production and 100 percent when the assembly lines are idle.
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