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Daimler plans to power 160ha factory using only renewables by 2018

Daimler aims to have the very first commercial vehicle plant powered entirely by renewable energy by 2018, by installing solar arrays and purchasing green energy for its BharatBenz production facility

The 10,000 polycrystalline photovoltaic panel array at Daimler's manufacturing plant in Oragadam, near Chennai, India.
The 10,000 polycrystalline photovoltaic panel array at Daimler's manufacturing plant in Oragadam, near Chennai, India.

Daimler is planning to have the very first commercial vehicle plant powered entirely by renewable energy by 2018, by installing solar arrays and purchasing green energy for its manufacturing plant in Chennai, India, where it builds BharatBenz trucks for domestic and overseas markets.

Daimler India began establishing renewables at its 160-hectare Oragadam plant in 2013, installing 300kW of solar panels at a cost of around $620,000 to comply with the Tamil Nadu state regulation mandating larger scale users generate at least 6% of their electricity needs through solar energy.

Since then, the manufacturer has been gradually increasing the capacity ever since, and in 2016, took its renewables programmes a step further by raising solar energy production at the Chennai plant from 0.8MW to 3.3MW total capacity.

The solar farm, built on previously idle stretches of land in the middle of the plant’s vehicle test track area, deploys more than 10,000 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels, and ensures that solar power to account more than one fourth of the plant’s average daytime energy requirements.

Marc Llistosella, head of Daimler Trucks Asia, noted: “At Daimler worldwide, we minimise negative effects from our activities with the help of effective environmental management systems.

“This project is a perfect example of how Daimler Trucks Asia promotes climate protection, conserves valuable resources and contributes to the preservation of a liveable environment.”

Now Daimler is working to have the entire energy budget of the Oragadam plant provided by renewable energy sources by the end of next year.

“Our target is, by next year, we will have the first commercial vehicle plant in the world which is totally sourced by renewable energy,” Llistosella told Business Insider.

To date, the facility is already relies primarily on renewable energy, including through the purchase of green energy from a power provider that runs wind farms in the south of India – to cover 57% of the plant’s total energy demand.

The solar panels at the facility meanwhile cover 16% of the facility’s overall energy consumption, taking into account the factories night-time operations, but Daimler is looking to once again increase that share or purchase yet more green energy from providers.

Middle East markets

As Daimler’s domestic sales of its BharatBenz range of trucks pass 50,000 units, and its export figures top 10,000 units, the plants is quickly expanding, and conversion of this facility plant to renewables will also lower the carbon budget of vehicles delivered to the Middle East.

Daimler’s exports from India have been doubling for several years, with the business exporting a total of 4,000 Fuso and Mercedes-Benz brand units from its BharatBenz production lines in 2016.

In 2017, the number of export markets from Daimler’s Indian made product will grow to 40 countries on three continents, including markets in Africa and Latin America, and, in the Middle East, Bahrain.

Having developed and proven the BharatBenz brand in India, Daimler has now also developed a sub-nine-tonne BharatBenz truck specifically for the Middle East that will be launched in Q3 2017.

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Construction Week - Issue 753
Nov 09, 2019