Pretoria – Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) recently announced bold plans to get its Silverton manufacturing plant off the Eskom grid. The company released a renewable energy programme titled “Project Blue Oval,” which will see the Ford Silverton plant get a 13,5MW solar power system developed by SolarAfrica. In additon to the solar carport system, Ford will also source electricity from other renewable energy sources like biomass, biogas and bio-syngas.
The project will be implemented in four phases within the next four years
Project Blue Oval sets a benchmark for Ford’s objective to use 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all our manufacturing plants globally by 2035Andrea Cavallaro, operations director
Once Project Blue Oval is complete, the Ford Silverton manufacturing plant will be the first Ford plant in the world to achieve energy self reliance status.
The solar power system will have the carports mounted with 31 000 solar panels, covering 4,200 parking bays. This will make it one of the largest solar carports in the world. In the interim, the facility will deliver approximately 30% of the Silverton plant’s annual power requirements.
Ford’s journey to Net-Zero
According to group operations director Andrea Cavallaro, Ford’s Project Blue Oval aligns with Ford Motor Company’s goal to locally source 100% renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants globally by 2035. Ford also aims to achieve carbon neutrality status by 2050.
“Project Blue Oval in South Africa sets a benchmark for Ford Motor Company’s objective to use 100% locally sourced renewable energy for all our 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,” said Cavallaro
“Ford Motor Company has launched clear objectives to address climate change, which compels us to change our behaviour in profound and lasting ways,” she added.
The Ford carbon neutrality strategy will see Ford develop electric vehicles, with the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 pick-up all electric on the cards.
Addressing energy and environmental challenges
South Africa has been recently experiencing chronic power blackouts that have been affecting economic activity and negatively affecting manufacturing output. While the public utility Eskom is working on improving the quality of its electricity network, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) wants to become energy self-sufficient.
David Sonnenberg, chief technical officer of SolarAfrica and Project Blue Oval, said that the solar project is the first step towards addressing South Africa’s energy and environmental challenges.
Ford plans to invest in the reuse of treated wastewater. “Water is a very precious and scarce resource in South Africa. It is too precious to be used just once, so we need to fundamentally change the way we use water, especially in the manufacturing sector,” added, Sonnenberg
Besides the environmental and cost benefits, Project Blue Oval will create 100 jobs locally during the construction phase of the solar carport system. A further initiative to introduce biomass energy will see an additional 2400 jobs created in the longer term.