Ford To Harness Solar Power

  Colin Windell


 18 May, 2022

South Africa, fortunately, is generally not short of sunshine. As a result, Ford is now harnessing that at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, where solar power will generate 35% of the electrical needs for the facility that produces the Ranger for export to more than 100 markets.

The zero-emissions project ensued from 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 large-scale solar array uses a total of 30 226 solar panels to generate 13,5 MW of electricity for the Silverton plant - subsequently making it one of the most extensive solar carports in the world and supporting Ford Motor Company’s 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,” says Ockert Berry, VP Operations, Ford South Africa.

“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 launch of the next-generation Ranger later this year.”

The installation took 599 days and 35 000 hours to complete and supported 121 jobs amongst sub-contractors involved in the construction and installation. The locally manufactured solar carports used approximately 59 tons of steel and 315 tons of aluminium.

More than 5 000 metres of medium and low-voltage cabling connects the solar PV panels to 120 three-phase 100 kW inverters and eight transformers before being fed into the Silverton plant. The system can produce 13,5 MW of power – the equivalent of powering almost 224 000 light bulbs, or 12 171 average households, for an entire year.

Significantly, the solar PV array will eliminate about 20 072 tons of CO2 each year. 

Watch the highlights of the installation process of the solar carports by clicking:

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