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Ford’s Silverton plant completes first phase of solar installation

30 May 2022 News


Ford’s Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria, which produces the Ranger pickup for domestic sales and export to global markets, has completed the first phase of its transition to solar energy and is now sourcing 35% of its electricity needs completely emission-free. The project is the result of a power purchase agreement with SolarAfrica and sees the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) carports for 3610 vehicles at its Silverton plant.

The large-scale solar array uses a total of 30 226 solar panels to generate 13,5 MW of power, making it one of the largest solar carports in the world and a ground-breaking renewable energy project for the domestic automotive industry. The project also supports Ford’s global target of using 100% carbon-free electricity across all its manufacturing operations by 2035, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“We are delighted to officially flip the switch and begin receiving 35 percent of our electricity from the solar carports with the completion of the first phase of our Project Blue Oval renewable energy programme,” says Ockert Berry, vice president of operations, Ford South Africa. “This project proudly puts the Silverton assembly plant on the map as part of Ford’s commitment to sustainability as we migrate our energy supply from fossil fuels to environmentally-friendly, renewable resources.”

Despite delays due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and the subsequent global shortage of certain components, the installation took 599 days to complete and supported 121 jobs amongst contractors involved in the construction and installation. Approximately 59 tons of steel and 315 tons of aluminium were used for the locally manufactured carports. More than 5000 metres of medium- and low-voltage cabling was used to connect the solar PV panels to 120 three-phase 100 kW inverters and 8 transformers, before being fed into the manufacturing plant.

The system is capable of producing 13,5 MW of power, which is equivalent to powering 12 171 average households for an entire year. More significantly from an environmental perspective, however, is that the PV array will eliminate the equivalent of 20 072 tons of CO2 generated per annum, which is a major step towards achieving Ford’s global carbon-free emissions target by 2035.

“With the solar project now complete and fully operational, we are evaluating the next steps for Project Blue Oval as we strive to ultimately have the Silverton plant completely energy self-sufficient and 100% carbon neutral,” Berry adds.




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