Car manufacturer General Motors has made a $7.5 million strategic investment in solar-panel provider Sunlogics, which will install solar panels on several GM facilities.
Sunlogics specializes in developing and installing rooftop solar panels that generate small amounts of electricity — enough to charge an electric car, for example. That’s useful to electric car manufacturing companies because it helps emphasize the clean-energy benefits of driving an electric car or hybrid electric car, like GM’s Chevy Volt.
“The auto companies are exploring this not only because it emphasizes the environmental benefits of driving an electric vehicle, but also because in some instances it can make business sense in reducing the cost of electricity,” Pike Research senior analyst John Gartner told VentureBeat.
General Motors has contracted with Sunlogics before to install solar panels at its facilities. Sunlogics will continue to install solar panels on top of GM facilities and Chevrolet dealerships as part of the deal, company officials told VentureBeat. Sunlogics will use the funding to create a solar panel manufacturing facility in Detroit, Mich., and a facility in Ontario, Canada.
“We have a trust factor with Sunlogics, we have a history with them, they have the right technology and the right cost point,” General Motors Ventures deputy director Tim Brumbaugh told VentureBeat. “As a result of our investment, they’ll be able to not only manufacture their own (photovoltaic) panels, but focus on their real bread and butter: developing, engineering, constructing and installing the solar panels.”
General Motors is not the only car company investing in solar panel providers for dealerships. Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi are installing rooftop solar panels on their factories and at dealerships to charge electric cars. It has the double effect of promoting the clean technology as well as reducing electricity costs.
“The trend of solar at car dealerships is very likely to grow over time, especially if combined with an energy storage system such as lithium-ion batteries that can maximize the value of the solar power by avoiding paying for electricity when it is most costly,” Gartner said.
General Motors has installed around 30 megawatts worth of solar panels at dealerships and facilities, Brumbaugh said. The company expects to expand that to 60 megawatts next year. And GM isn’t the only company that is introducing solar panels to manufacturing facilities — many manufacturers outside of car manufacturers are recognizing the cost benefits of installing solar panels, he said.
DETROIT – General Motors Ventures LLC announced today an equity investment of $7.5 million in Sunlogics PLC, a vertically integrated global solar energy systems provider specializing in solar project development and installation. The investment will create 310 jobs.
GM also signed commercial agreements with Sunlogics for the installation of solar charging canopies at Chevrolet dealerships and GM facilities, as well as a power purchase agreement to install large-scale solar arrays at GM facilities and purchase the energy they produce.
Sunlogics will use some of the funding to establish its corporate headquarters and open a manufacturing facility in suburban Detroit, and to set up a manufacturing facility in Ontario. The facility in Southeast Michigan will create 200 jobs and the Canadian facility will support 110 jobs.
“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’ management has experience developing and operating solar commercial installations in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Sunlogics PLC has a strategic relationship with Sunlogics Power Fund Management Inc. and with other entities to own and operate solar projects developed by Sunlogics PLC.
“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. “Sunlogics was the ideal choice because it is a vertically integrated company that has a global footprint.”
Said Michael Matvieshen, CEO Sunlogics: “GM’s solar expansion and financial commitment provides a firm foundation for the growth of Sunlogics’ business worldwide and will bring more sustainable green energy to GM operations.”
“The partnership provides a new level of opportunity to the larger scale industrial solar projects Sunlogics designs, manufactures and constructs,” Matvieshen said. “We are looking forward to further assisting our customers in reducing their carbon footprint with sustainable renewable energy.”
As part of today’s announcement, General Motors committed to double its solar energy output globally 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,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Energy, Environment & 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 is the auto industry’s leading user of renewable energy. It has three of the largest automotive rooftop solar power installations in the United States and the world’s largest rooftop solar installation at its car assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain. Additionally, GM has started construction on a new solar field at its Detroit-Hamtramck facility and completed construction on a solar array on top of its Baltimore Operations facility.
About General Motors Ventures
General Motors Ventures LLC is a subsidiary designed to help the company identify and develop innovative technologies in the automotive/transportation sector. GM Ventures has been funded with an initial investment of $100 million, and is exploring equity investments in a number of auto-related technologies and business models. More information can be found at www.gmventures.com.
Sunlogics PLC is a vertically-integrated global solar energy systems provider specializing in solar project development and installation. Sunlogics has a strategic partnership with Sunlogics Power Management Fund Inc (SLMU:US) and with other entities for the purpose of owning and operating solar projects developed by Sunlogics PLC. The scope of the company’s current projects and operations reach to the nations of the world including Canada, United States, Europe and China. More information can be found at www.sunlogics.com.