November 21st, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
It’s not the largest solar roof in the world, or in the auto world. In fact, it’s not even close to the largest. Nonetheless, the story of a ŠKODA AUTO Service Center getting a new solar power roof system is another story about the auto industry’s continual shift to clean technology. It may not be as fast as some of us hope — and think necessary in order to protect a stable climate — but there is no doubt the transition is underway and the industry is taking steps in the right direction every day.
The Little Guys
When I saw the news about a ŠKODA AUTO Service Centre in the town of Kosmonosy in the Czech Republic going solar, my first thought that it was an update about a different Volkswagen Group rooftop solar power system in that area of the world — but then I realized that I was thinking about Audi’s large rooftop solar system in Hungary, a different Volkswagen Group company in a neighboring country, or another ŠKODA AUTO solar story that I’ll come back to at the end of this article. As I opened up this new story and looked at the details, I saw that the 441 kW ŠKODA AUTO rooftop solar power system doesn’t compare to the 12 MW Audi rooftop solar power system. So, I almost dropped my plan to write about it, but then I decided that there’s a story in the story here.
Big solar projects and major EV rollouts get the most headlines, because they deserve them, but it’s a strong army of smaller rooftop solar power systems and niche electric vehicles that do much of the work — in aggregate.
ŠKODA AUTO Solar in Czech Republic
Regarding this project in particular, “ŠKODA AUTO has collaborated with ČEZ Solarní, a subsidiary of energy services provider ČEZ ESCO, and energy supplier ŠKO-ENERGO, to install solar panels on the roofs of its Service Centre in Kosmonosy, near the company’s headquarters in Mladá Boleslav,” a press release states. “The panels on the building complex span more than 2,200 m2 overall and will generate over 450 MWh of sustainable energy per year. The new photovoltaic modules will thus allow the car manufacturer to cover almost 25 per cent of its electricity requirements in Kosmonosy. This is yet another measure of the company’s GreenFuture strategy, the umbrella under which ŠKODA AUTO runs all of its environmental activities.”
The solar panels actually cover 5 buildings. There’s also a battery storage component, offering 570 kWh of energy storage capacity.
ŠKODA AUTO Solar in India
We have actually covered one other ŠKODA AUTO solar story, back in January 2020 as part of a roundup of 10 solar power stories from around the world. This may have been what I was thinking about when the new headline jogged my memory. Though, that one was on a different continent, and much bigger. In late 2019, ŠKODA AUTO Volkswagen India Private Limited had one of the largest rooftop solar power systems installed on its factory in Chakan, Pune, India.
“Together with its partner Amp Energy, the car manufacturer has installed a total of 25,770 photovoltaic panels,” Volkswagen Group wrote on December 12, 2019. “The installation will cover up to 15 per cent of the site’s annual electricity requirements, and the panels have a maximum output of 8.5 megawatts.” For a rooftop solar power system, that’s not big — it’s huge.
“At its Pune factory, ŠKODA AUTO Volkswagen India Private Limited has created a basic prerequisite to be carbon-neutral by 2030,” the company wrote. “The company’s own photovoltaic system consists of 25,770 highly efficient polycrystalline panels covering the 63,000 m² of roof space on the body shop complex. The installation will generate a total of 12.2 million kWh of energy per year and thus reduce CO2 emissions resulting from car production at the site by more than 9,000 tonnes per year. Direct heat radiation in the workshop is also reduced.”
One project after another, clean technology is adding up, and thus subtracting CO2 emissions and harmful air pollution. Use that solar power to “fuel” electric cars and you get one of my favorite lines: driving on sunshine, or driving on sunlight. It’s a stark departure — a beautiful one — from drilling for oil, pumping it out of the ground, spending a fortune and creating a lot of pollution to refine it, shipping it to gas stations, pumping cars full of gas, and then having them rumble and shake as they burn that fuel for a bit of power. It’s the future, but the more that it’s the present, the better off we all are.
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