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Volkswagen Opens Huge Solar Park Near Chattanooga Tennessee Plant

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
From left to right: Dr. Andreas Haenel, Phoenix Solar AG/ Jim Coppinger, Mayor Hamilton County/ Frank Fischer, Volkswagen Chattanooga/Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch/ Ron Littlefield, Mayor Chattanooga/Wolfram Thomas, Volkswagen AG/ Dr. Murray Cameron, Phoenix Solar Inc.

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

THE HAGUE, January 27, 2013. Volkswagen has started to use a huge park of over 33 acres with solar panels next to its plant in Tennessee, where it builds the Passat model for the North-American market.

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park can produce electricity of maximum 13.1 gigawatt hours, enough for approximately 12.5 percent of the energy that is needed if the plant is operating at full production. In other words: the energy produced would be sufficient for supplying electricity to 1,200 houses.

The Solar Park is built in the framework of VW’s global Think Blue philosophy for factories. After the opening in 2011, Chattanooga already got the label of the greenest factory in the world with a Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Other manufacturers intend to beat the Germans in this respect. General Motors is busy creating parks with solar panels at its factories, including the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant where the Volt plug-in hybrid is built.

The panels there are used to charge the batteries of the Chevrolet Volt models before they are shipped to the dealers.

The VW Solar Park in Tennessee is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch, a company of former Governor Bredesen, who fulfilled a key role in establishing the Volkswagen factory in Tennessee. VW has a contract of 20 years for the purchase of energy