Over the past few years solar power has popped up in all sorts of places—even some where people might not expect it to, like auto manufacturers and at car dealerships, to help them cut their energy costs. While it might not be surprising to see solar power at a Tesla dealership—it owns SolarCity. But did you know a growing number of Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Toyota dealerships have solar power, too?
Dealerships, unlike car manufacturers are often independently owned. So the dealerships, like Cleveland Ohio’s Motorcars Honda, which was certified as the first carbon-neutral automotive dealership in 2016, are taking often taking on the transition on their own.
Still some car companies are partnering with their dealerships, like Ford, which partnered with Wind Energy to install solar and wind power at some of its dealerships in Michigan, California and New York.
SunPower is helping dealerships to go solar, too. It has 17 megawatts of SunPower solar under construction or operating at auto companies across the US.
"It's no surprise that an increasing number of auto customers find solar to be a reliable, effective way to reduce electric bills while freeing up operating capital and improving their environment with emission-free energy," said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president.
"Over the last five years, we've worked with Energy Concepts to install over 450 kilowatts of high-efficiency SunPower solar at 10 of our dealerships across Minnesota, and have seen significant energy savings as a result,” said Linda McGinty, Vice President of Real Estate, Luther Auto Group. "Solar just makes good business sense in today's energy environment, and has become integral to many of our facilities' energy-efficient designs.” Indeed, together the installations are expected to save the dealerships $2.1 million in utility costs over 25 years.
Auto dealers, 80 percent of which are locally owned, have high electric expenses, on average they consume 18 percent more energy than a typical office building, according to the National Auto Dealers Association and SunPower. SunPower said they’re spending nearly $2 billion in annual electric costs.
Another SunPower-powered dealership, Boulder Nissan, used Independent Power Systems to install a 50-kilowatt array. There the system now provides 20 percent of its energy needs and it and the its LED lighting will save it $384,000 in energy costs over 25 years.
"It's inspiring to help auto dealers see a return on their solar investment in five to seven years, with some becoming cash-flow positive in as little as one month," said Ryan Ferrero, CEO of Ignyte Lab which partnered with Independent Power Systems, a SunPower dealer. "When we can show auto dealership owners the financial benefits of using renewable energy and adopting sustainable business practices, high-quality solar energy solutions end up selling themselves."Tweet