Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant now receives over a third of its power from the sun, as part of an ongoing sustainability drive.
The Pretoria-based facility partnered with SolarAfrica to install thousands of solar panels across the site, which now produce up to 13.5MW of electricity – the equivalent of what 12,171 average households use in a year.
That accounts for 35% of the plant’s energy demand, said Ford South Africa.
The installations, consisting of over 30,000 solar panels and 3,600 photovoltaic (PV) carports, are part of Ford South Africa’s “Project Blue Oval” renewable energy programme, which has now completed its first phase.
Ford’s goal is to ultimately achieve 100% energy self-sufficiency with its facility and to be 100% carbon neutral, it said.
This is part of a much broader global sustainability drive that Ford has undertaken, which aims for all of the company’s production facilities around the world to use carbon-free electricity by 2035.
A local milestone
Ockert Berry, VP of Operations for Ford South Africa, said the project will “significantly decrease [Ford’s] energy costs, thus improving the efficiency and cost competitiveness of the plant.”
“It is another big step forward in modernising our manufacturing operations as we build up to the highly anticipated launch of the must-have product that is the next-generation Ranger later this year,” he said.
The Silverton Assembly Plant is the place of origin for the Ford Ranger bakkie, one of the best-selling cars in South Africa and by far Ford’s most popular model in the domestic market.
Last month the Ranger sold over 1,100 units locally and over 5,000 units were exported to 100 different international markets, and the latest iteration of the Ranger is set to release in the third quarter of this year.
The Silverton plant recently increased its capacity to be able to produce as many as 200,000 vehicles a year – comprising the Ranger, Everest, and the next-gen VW Amarok – representing a R15.8-billion investment in the local industry by the carmaker.
“Being the first of its kind in South Africa to focus on the large-scale integration of renewables in the automotive sector, we are proud to see the financial and environmental benefits this landmark project addresses,” said David McDonald, CEO of Solar Africa.
“We hope that this project encourages many more original equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive sector to aggressively adopt renewables and become more sustainable operations.”