Heavy machinery manufacturer Volvo claims to have the first construction equipment facility in the world which is both carbon neutral and powered entirely by renewable energy.
Volvo Group says that as of December last year, its 45,000 square metre articulated hauler design and manufacturing plant in Braås, Sweden had become entirely powered by wind, biomass and hydropower and emitted "no harmful emission, no contribution to the greenhouse effect."
In its statement, the company says the facility started down the path of carbon neutrality in 1999 by commissioning local energy supplier Växjö Energi AB to install a district heating plant fuelled by wood chips to provide central heating for both its employees and the town’s residents.
Braås then joined a Volvo Group initiative in 2007 that saw it switch to green electricity (i.e. generated from renewable sources), an initiative the group says combined with the earlier efforts to bring the site’s level of neutrality to 87 per cent by 2008.
Then, in September 2013, the company replaced LPG gas burners used to heat rust protection treatment ovens to 60 degrees Celsius with district heating, altered the burners in the paint shop (which reach 120 degrees) to electrical heating and substituted diesel forklifts with electric battery models while challenging Växjö to run the district heating using only biomass. Previously, regular oil had been used during peak times and maintenance.
Volvo CE’s vice president of Core Value Management & Corporate Social Responsibility Niklas Nillroth said the achievement followed an earlier initiative in 2007 which saw one of the group’s truck making plants in Belgium become the first carbon neutral facility in automotive manufacturing.
“As one of our core values, environmental care informs everything we do at Volvo,” Nillroth said. “So we are extremely proud that the Volvo Group is leading the way, not just in one industry, but two.”
The latest announcement comes as Volvo also announced it had secured approval from the National Development and Reform Commission in China for the establishment of a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Company Limited under which Volvo would acquire 45 per cent of a new subsidiary which will include the major part of Dongfeng’s medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles business.
That transaction, however, remains subject to approval by other Chinese authorities.