The R135 million first phase is being implemented in partnership with SolarAfrica, one of South Africa’s leading power purchase agreement providers. It involves the installation of specially developed and locally manufactured solar photovoltaic (PV) carports throughout the facility.
More than 31 000 solar panels covering 4 200 parking bays will be used to generate 13.5 MW of solar energy, about 30% of the plant’s annual energy requirement, making it one of the largest solar carports in the world. The first phase of the project will create 100 jobs locally.
Four further phases are planned, which will boost the total number of jobs created by the project to 2 500.
FMCSA Vice President Operations, Ockert Berry, said on Friday the solar project is the first step towards achieving “Island Mode” within the next four years, at which point the Silverton assembly plant will no longer rely on the national power grid or any municipal services.
The Silverton plant produces the Ford Ranger, Ranger Raptor and Everest for domestic sales and more than 100 global export markets.
“Our goal by 2024 is to have the Silverton plant completely energy self-sufficient and 100% carbon neutral, using an integrated renewable and co-generation energy mix comprising solar PV, biomass, biogas and biosyngas for all our electricity, gas and heating requirements.
“We will also be introducing 100% water recycling, and all non-fermentable waste will be repurposed through a pyrolysis system to produce syngas,” he said.
Berry said this is a bold and pioneering step by Ford in South Africa that will transform its business and help the company to make an important contribution to reduce its impact on the environment.
The project will also make the Silverton assembly plant both more efficient and more cost competitive, he said.
The next phases of the project involve introducing biomass as a source of renewable energy and outsource the farming of fermentable biomass plants in rural areas to support the project.
Ford International Markets Group Director Operations, Andrea Cavallaro, said the Ford Motor Company has launched clear objectives to address climate change, which compel the company to change its behaviour in profound and lasting ways.
Cavallaro said renewable energy is at the centre of Ford’s focused plan to reduce and ultimately eliminate its reliance on fossil fuels while lowering and offsetting the production of CO2 emissions.
He said Project Blue Oval in South Africa sets a benchmark for Ford Motor Company’s objective of using 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants globally by 2035.
“It also takes us one step closer to achieving carbon neutrality globally by 2050 – both for our facilities around the world and within our supply base,” he said.
SolarAfrica MD David McDonald said SolarAfrica has developed a bespoke cantilever solar carport for this vast project.
McDonald said the solar PV carport is locally sourced and has been specifically designed to offer hail protection for the finished goods vehicle inventory while producing cheaper, cleaner energy for Ford’s Silverton assembly plant.