Hyundai supersizes rooftop solar

Hyundai says the rooftop solar power system it will install at its Asan plant in South Korea, with a generating capacity of 10 megawatts, will be the largest in the country – and it’s right up there with the biggest single-site rooftop installations in the world.

The Asan array will cover 213,000 square meters, the equivalent of about 30 typical-size football pitches. Or think of it this way: The average home rooftop system runs around 5 kilowatts, so this will be equal to about 2,000 solarized houses.

What the Asan Hyundai plant will look like by the end of the year (image via Hyundai)

According to Hyndai:

Hyundai’s Asan plant will host the power plant, while Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) will purchase the electricity produced by the solar modules and sell it to areas near the plant, including Asan city. Working with Korea Midland Power Co., Ltd. (KOMIPO), a thermal power company, Hyundai plans to install about 40,000 solar photovoltaic modules on the rooftops of Asan’s press, welding, assembly and engine buildings by the end of this year.

Hyundai said the array will occupy 68 percent of the roof space on the Asan factory, where Hyundai manufactures its Sonata Hybrid as well as the standard Sonata and the Grandeur (aka, Azera). The array is expected to produce 11.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. One other interesting note: Hyundai said “sprinklers that work to cool down the solar modules will also help the plant save energy by lowering the indoor temperature during hot seasons.”

The largest rooftop array at a single site that we’ve heard about is the 12-megawatt system at a GM factory in Zaragoza, Spain. But here’s a funny thing: GM says on its website that the Zaragoza array “was the world’s largest industrial rooftop solar installation until 2012.” Anybody know what beat it out?

As for the U.S., the biggest rooftop system is at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, N.J. That system, which went online in 2011, is said to consist of 1.1 million square feet of solar panels – a little more than half the size of the planned Korea system. But the Gloucester developers says their array can produce about 9 megawatts (MW) of electricity when operating at peak.

* Pete Danko, EarthTechling