MAN Truck & Bus SA has converted its Pinetown assembly plant to solar power, the first to do so in the industry. The complete truck and bus-chassis assembly plant is now capable of operating entirely off solar energy and is not only the first 100% carbon-neutral truck production site in Africa, but also within MAN’s global production network.
According to Heiko Kayser, Head of Production at the Pinetown Assembly Plant, the installation of the solar, or photovoltaic (PV) system, commenced in August 2014 and was completed in less than six months.
The group’s vision is to reduce CO2 emissions at its sites by improving energy efficiency
“The project forms part of MAN’s global climate strategy to reduce carbon emissions at its production sites in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America by 25% by 2020.”
The group’s vision is to reduce CO2 emissions at its sites by improving energy efficiency, using renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal), generating energy using combined heat and power (CHP) plants, and through integrated energy-management technology and organisation. Geoff du Plessis, Managing Director of MAN Truck & Bus SA, confirms that this investment is not only a significant step in terms of environmental commitment, but it also shows long-term commitment to the region and its future.
With its abundant sunshine, Pinetown is a prime location to implement a carbon-neutral solar energy solution
“Our products and services are all aimed to minimise their carbon footprint, and it is great to see that even our assembly plant contributes in this regard.” With its abundant sunshine, Pinetown is a prime location to implement solar energy solutions, and Kayser and his team procured expertise from KwaZulu-Natal to design and install the new PV system.
“Prior to rolling out the PV project, we refurbished our entire roofing system at a cost of over R5 million to not only efficiently accommodate the solar panels, but also to install skylights and thermal insulation material to reduce demand for electric lighting and to make our buildings cooler for our operators,” explains Kayser.
Of the 10 000m2 of roofing covering all buildings at MAN’s Pinetown plant, 6 300m2 have been utilised to accommodate the PV installation. The 580kW system is capable of generating approximately 810 000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power per annum, providing a surplus of energy that can be supplied to the metropolitan (eThekwini) grid.
Employing 160 personnel, MAN’s Pinetown Assembly Plant is spearheading the group’s climate change strategy with tangible benefits for all its stakeholders.
“With occupational safety being a primary consideration for MAN, contracting an experienced PV system installation company was essential. We were fortunate that Solaray contracted the services of Renen Renewable Energy Solutions (Renen) for the installation. Their efficiency allowed us to maintain our production targets 100% while recording zero safety-related incidents.”
Ncamsile Mbatha, SHEQ Officer at the MAN Pinetown Assembly Plant, says the fact that they are now using renewable energy means they are reducing pollution and their carbon footprint, which is not only healthier for their people and the environment but also helps to reduce their production costs.
Apart from the environmental and social benefits, MAN Pinetown’s ‘green’ building will generate impressive financial advantages, says Kayser: “We have calculated that our energy cost-savings for 2015 will be in the region of R1 million, with a CO2 saving of 860 tons per annum.