Honda Goes Solar

Honda Performance Development is Honda’s advanced motorsports operation.

Honda Performance Development is Honda’s advanced motorsports operation. Or, as the official description has it: “Founded in 1993, Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines and operates at race circuits around the world from its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.”

All of which is to say that going really fast is pretty much what it is all about.

Now while there are laudable efforts at being a little more “green” in the motorsports world—such as hybrids and ethanol and the like—driving one race at Le Mans (which HPD has supported) probably sucks down as much fuel as a month in a Civic Hybrid.

Still, every little bit helps.

So HPD HQ is the recipient of Honda’s largest commercial solar cell demonstration project in the U.S.

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Those are solar panels on the roof.  And if you look closely, that’s a GE WattStation EV charger to the left of that Fit EV.

They’ve deployed a 100-kW, 800-cell array of thin-film solar panels, based on a compound of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (or “CIGS” as it is known in the trade). According to Honda, compared with conventional crystal silicon solar cells, this thin-film requires less raw material, 40% less energy, and reduced CO2 emissions.

The solar panels were produced by Honda Soltec of Kumamoto, Japan. These cells are used on a variety of Honda facilities in Japan, 15 in all, including factories. The total output of the cells is 2.5-mW.

In addition to which, they’ve installed a GE WattStation electric vehicle charger. Honda will be offering a Fit electric vehicle next year, so this is anticipatory of that.

“The installation of Honda Soltec solar panels along with an electric vehicle charging station at one of our most advanced Honda facilities in the United States represents a big step for us in our solar product development. What we learn from this new project at HPD will provide real-world data and feedback on the use of Honda solar cells in a typical commercial application.” That’s from Mike Hodge, manager of Honda Home Energy for the Power Equipment Div.—the part of Honda that makes everything from generators to snow blowers.

Seems like this solar roof could have a whole lot of implications beyond electric vehicles.