Building electric cars and plug-in hybrids is great, but what if there's no place to charge them?

Ford is starting a project that will not only give employees a place to charge, but also reduce its corporate carbon emissions.

The carmaker announced it is teaming with Detroit utility DTE Energy to build a solar canopy over hundreds of parking spaces at its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

It's Michigan's largest solar array, according to Ford, and will give employees 360 covered parking spaces--and 30 charging stations for plug-in electric cars.

The solar canopy will have a capacity of just under 1.04 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 158 average-sized homes.

Ford says it will offset roughly 875 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions per year.

2015 Ford Focus Electric

2015 Ford Focus Electric

Construction is expected to start in September, and the canopy should be completed by early 2015. It will be built, operated, and maintained by DTE Energy, as part of the company's effort to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

This isn't the first collaboration between the two companies.

In 2010, Ford and DTE Energy installed a 500-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array at the carmaker's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. The energy generated helps power the plant, which builds the Ford Focus and Focus Electric, as well C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi models.

As cars become more efficient, the emissions related to manufacturing become a more significant part of their total carbon footprint. This has led other manufacturers to experiment with solar power as well.

General Motors installed a solar array at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant after Chevrolet Volt production started there, while Nissan North America put solar panels at its headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, to provide energy to charge Leaf electric cars.

Not every project is related to plug-in cars, either.

Volkswagen installed a solar array at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant. Meanwhile, Honda is installing wind turbines at its plant in Marysville, Ohio.


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