General Motors invests in solar energy firm Sunlogics

28 Jul 2011

General Motors Ventures has made an equity investment of US$7.5m in solar energy systems maker Sunlogics, with part of the funding set to create more than 310 clean-tech jobs when Sunlogics builds new manufacturing facilities in Detroit, Michigan and in Ontario, Canada.

GM has signed commercial agreements with Sunlogics, so the solar energy systems provider will install solar-charging canopies at Chevrolet dealerships and GM facilities. GM has also signed a power purchase agreement so it can install large-scale solar arrays at GM facilities and purchase the energy produced by these arrays.

Sunlogics will use some of the equity investment funding to establish its corporate headquarters and open a manufacturing facility in suburban Detroit, as well as setting up a manufacturing facility in Ontario.

The company anticipates that the facility in southeast Michigan will create 200 jobs and the Canadian facility will support 110 jobs.

GM deepens its clean-tech focus

“Global solar energy use is predicted to more than double by 2016, so we believe that investing in renewable energy is a smart and strategic business decision,” said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures.

“And, the Chevrolet solar-charging canopy project complements our electrification strategy that started with the Chevrolet Volt by helping our cars live up to their fullest green potential.”

Sunlogics has designed, developed and constructed solar commercial installations in Canada, the US, and Europe.

“The investment in Sunlogics allows GM to strategically partner with a leading solar developer and operator that can help GM drive the use of solar, specifically large-scale solar installations at our facilities,” Lauckner said.

He said Sunlogics was an obvious choice as it is a vertically integrated company with a global footprint.

GM aims to double its solar output by 2015

GM has also pledged to double solar output globally from 30 megawatts to 60 megawatts by the end of 2015.

“Our GM facilities currently house 30 megawatts of solar power, and we are committing today to double that capacity to 60 megawatts over the next few years, which is equivalent to powering 10,000 homes annually,” explained Mike Robinson, GM vice-president of Energy, Environment and Safety Policy.

“Not only does renewable energy make good business sense, it helps us continue to reduce the impact our facilities have on the environment.”

GM has three of the largest automotive rooftop solar power installations in the US and the world’s largest rooftop solar installation at its car assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain.

Photo: General Motors and Sunlogics solar canopy at a GM facility, the Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Photo courtesy of General Motors Ventures

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic