CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Volkswagen "powered up" the largest single solar installation at an automotive manufacturing facility in the United States and the biggest solar installation in the state of Tennessee on Wednesday.
At a dedication ceremony, dignitaries flipped a giant light switch to signal the official opening of the "Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park", built on Volkswagen's compound in Chattanooga.
The solar installation confirms the awarding of the highly-coveted LEED Platinum certification to VW by the U.S Green Building Council in late 2011. At that time, the Building Council called the Chattanooga manufacturing facility "the world's greenest auto plant" and noted it was the first automotive manufacturing plant in the world to receive the top LEED certification.
To this day, the Chattanooga plant remains the only auto plant worldwide to earn the LEED Platinum certification.
The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to VW's state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year -- equivalent to the energy consumed annually by around 1,200 homes in the area.
The electricity produced from the solar park is expected to meet 12.5% of the energy needs of Volkswagen's Chattanooga manufacturing plant during full production and 100% during non-production periods.
The plant covers 1.9 million square feet and employs more than 3,000 people who manufacture the highly-acclaimed Volkswagen Passat sedan. For Volkswagen, the solar park in Chattanooga will rank as the automaker's largest photovoltaic installation worldwide.
"We are proud to power up the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America today," Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations LLC, said. "The solar park is another proof point of Volkswagen's worldwide commitment to environmental protection."