By John Addison (updated 7/8/11; original 5/31/11)
Renault has received orders for 100,000 of its Renault Fluence Z.E. electric car from Better Place for massive deployment in Israel, Denmark, and other countries. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the clear leader in freeway speed electric car sales with Nissan delivering the LEAF, and both using common electric drive system and lithium battery components.
These electric cars are zero emission from battery to wheels, but each car does contribute to tons of CO2 emission over its lifetime from manufacturing through thousands of electric charges to recycling of batteries and parts. Due to the 80 percent efficiency of electric drives compared to 15 percent efficiency of gasoline engine drives, electric vehicles produce 70 to 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline cars. Charging with renewable energy makes the reduction greater than a typical grid energy mix of 50 percent coal generation.
Renault wants to extend its leadership in carbon emissions reduction by installing the world’s biggest solar parking structure. With a stunning 55 MW of solar energy, Renault will cut CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons a year. Project developer Gestamp Solar, using Trina Solar modules, is installing the biggest solar panel project in the global automotive industry. The project has added benefits of shelter cars, keeping them cooler in warm weather, and being easier to install than high roofs.
When the 450,000 m2 of solar panels are operational, they will cover an area equivalent to 55 football fields. The project is part of Renault 2016 – Drive The Change, Renault’s strategic plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 10% by 2013 and by a further 10% between 2013 and 2016.
Renault has implemented several actions to reduce consumption at its plants (e.g. the zero carbon plant in Tangiers). With the solar parking and roof projects, Renault is showing its concern to conserve resources by diversifying the energy mix used to generate electricity, and particularly by using renewable energy sources. Solar panels will also cover the roofs of the delivery and shipping centers at the Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly and Sandouville sites, and the staff parking lots at Maubeuge and Cléon.
The start date for installation is mid-June 2011 and completion is scheduled for February 2012.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. lithium batteries can be switched at Better Place charging stations in minutes to give drivers unlimited range where switch station networks are installed. They batteries can also be charged at traditional charge points. At switch stations, stored batteries could be charged with renewable energy off-peak and battery power could be provided to the grid during peak hours, thereby reducing the need for dirty coal power and inefficient natural gas peaker plants.