Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant located in Pretoria, which produces the Ranger pickup for domestic sales and exports to over 100 global markets, now sources 35% of its electricity completely emissions-free, directly from the sun.The project is the result of a long-term power purchase agreement with SolarAfrica, with the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) carports for 3 610 vehicles at the Silverton plant. SolarAfrica’s innovative, large-scale solar array utilises a total of 30 226 solar panels to generate 13.5MW of emissions-free electricity for the Silverton plant. It is one of the largest solar carports in the world, and a ground-breaking renewable energy project for the domestic automotive industry. It also supports Ford Motor Company’s ambitious global targets to use 100% carbon-free electricity across its manufacturing operations by 2035 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “We are delighted to officially flip the switch and begin receiving 35% of our electricity from the solar carports with the completion of the first phase of our Project Blue Oval renewable energy programme. 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,” Ockert Berry, VP operations of Ford South Africa said.
“Through the long-term power purchase agreement with SolarAfrica, this project will also significantly reduce our 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,” Berry added.“Combined with our R15.8-billion investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant and supplier tooling in the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone for the next-gen Ranger, we have a truly world-class facility capable of producing vehicles of the highest quality for our customers around the world. Despite increasing our production capacity to 200 000 vehicles per year, the solar project delivers on our promise of reducing our impact on the environment and contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable future.” Ockert Berry further revealed, “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.” David McDonald, CEO of SolarAfrica said, “We applaud Ford South Africa for being industry leaders and committing to a sustainability project of this stature, 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. 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.”