VW Goes Solar at Chattanooga Plant

Sections: Fuel Economy

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VW flips the switch on its solar farm

Flipping the switch at the Volkswagen “solar farm” near the brand’s Chattanooga, TN assembly plant from left are Phoenix Solar AG Representative Andreas Haenel, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, VW Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer, Silicon Ranch Representative Matt Kisber, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, Volkswagen AG Representative Wolfram Thomas,and Phoenix Solar Representative Murray Cameron. (Photo courtesy Volkswagen of America.)

While our fuel economy posts normally focus on features within a car that make it more fuel-efficient, Volkswagen is thinking bigger-picture this week by making its Chattanooga, TN assembly plant more fuel-efficient.

Much is said about a given car’s carbon footprint in this day and age of environmental consciousness, and with this move, VW effectively shrank the carbon footprint of the Passat it builds in Chattanooga. According to a press release from the marque, the 66-acre “solar farm,” as it is being called, will generate up to 12.5% of the plant’s total power needs during full production and can supply all of the plant’s power needs when the production line is not moving. Not too shabby, considering the plant’s hulking 1.9-million square-foot floorplan.

The installation builds upon a focus on environmentally friendly building practices that culminated in the plant’s certification as a LEED Platinum facility. The U.S. Green Building Council called the plant “the world’s greenest auto plant” upon awarding it LEED Platinum certification in 2011.

According to the press release, VW will not sell any of the power generated by the solar array back to the local utility company. Instead, it plans to use all the power it generates.

Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations LLC, said, “We are proud to power up the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America today. The solar park is another proof point of Volkswagen’s worldwide commitment to environmental protection under its ‘Think Blue. Factory’ philosophy, a broadly focused initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials, and water and produce less waste and emissions.

“Powering up the solar park also validates the awarding of the LEED Platinum certificate to Volkswagen Chattanooga, which is still the only car factory in the world that has earned such an honor,” Fischer added.


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