Ford factory in Pretoria taps into solar plant for power

More than a third of the Ford Silverton Assembly Plant’s energy needs are supplied with solar power, according to Ford South Africa. The company partnered with SolarAfrica on the first phase of its Project Blue Oval renewable energy programme, resulting in the construction of a 13.5MW solar power plant, sufficient to carry 35% of the Pretoria plant’s energy demands.

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Solar panels were installed on the roofs of parking pays outside the manufacturing plant: a total of 30,226 photovoltaic solar panels installed on 3,610 parking bays. According to Ford this makes it one of the largest solar carports in the world.

“Approximately 59 tonnes of steel and 315 tons of aluminium were used for the locally manufactured solar carports,” Ford stated. “More than 5,000 metres of medium and low-voltage cabling was used to connect the solar PV panels to 120 three-phase 100kW inverters and eight transformers, before being fed into the Silverton plant.”

“We are proud to see the financial and environmental benefits this landmark project addresses,” SolarAfrica CEO David McDonald stated. “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.”

Ford South Africa’s vice president for operations, Ockert Berry, said the long-term power purchase agreement with SolarAfrica would significantly reduce the plant’s energy costs, improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

“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,” Berry said. “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.”

“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,” the company stated.