BMW Adds Solar to Sustainable Energy Portfolio

bmwsolarBMW Manufacturing has completed the installation and commissioning of solar panels that are providing solar energy to fully power the 24,000 square foot Zentrum Museum, the plant’s heritage museum and visitors center in Greenville, South Carolina. In addition to the new solar panels, the plant also installed three new electric vehicle charging stations throughout the main facility. BMW made an investment of $500,000 in this installation.

“Adding a new, alternative energy platform to our energy portfolio is another step in our commitment to sustainable methods of generating power at our factory,” said Duncan Seaman, Department Manager, Market Operations USA & Canada. “It is the perfect complement to our existing landfill gas-to-energy and hydrogen fuel cell program and offsets the fossil fuel requirements otherwise needed to run our facility.”

Each of the 400 solar modules can provide 240 watts of energy. The solar panels, completed in partnership with Southern Energy Management (headquartered in Morrisville, NC), were installed in front of the Zentrum Museum parallel to Interstate 85. SunStore Solar (Greer, SC) also served as a consultant to BMW on this project.

Since 2003, methane gas has been collected, cleaned and compressed from a local landfill and used to power more than 50% of the BMW plant’s total energy requirements.

In 2009, the company invested $12 million in its landfill gas program to further improve overall efficiency. Implementation of the program has reduced CO2 emissions by about 92,000 tons per year and saves about $5 million annually in energy costs. More recently, the company announced the addition of a hydrogen storage and distribution center within their on-site 11 Megawatt Energy Center to facilitate on-site fueling of a hydrogen-fuel cell material handling fleet inside the 1.2 million square foot assembly plant that completes final assembly of the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle.

Image credit: BMW