Ford solar deal
(Photo/Ford)

Ford Lines Up Largest Solar Energy Deal in US History

Ford Motor Co. will purchase 650 megawatts of solar power from DTE Energy, enough to power all of its Michigan operations by 2025, the partners announced Monday. 

It will be the largest single purchase of renewable energy in U.S. history, Ford and DTE said during a news conference.

 

 

“Today is an example of what it looks like to lead … to turn talk into action,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley during a media presentation at the automaker’s Michigan Avenue Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne. “This unprecedented agreement is all about a greener and brighter future for Ford and for Michigan.”

Ford DTE solar deal
(Photo/Ford)

Automakers Turn to Renewables

A number of automakers, including General Motors, Volkswagen, and startup Rivian, have begun turning to alternative energy sources for their U.S. operations. GM relies on a solar array at its Factory Zero to charge up the battery-electric vehicles built at the Detroit plant.

Solar energy provides more than 12% of the power for the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Rivian gets 2.8 mW from a wind turbine at its assembly plant in Normal, Ill.

But Ford’s new alliance with DTE will dwarf what its rivals have in place. And it will require enough solar panels to cover about 600 acres, the energy provider noted. The Ford project will increase DTE’s current solar capacity by about 70%, it added. 

“Ford was the first large industrial customer to enroll in our MIGreenPower program in 2019 and we thank Ford for its continued commitment to using MIGreenPower to help decarbonize its operations and meet its sustainability goals,” said Jerry Norcia, chairman and CEO, DTE Energy.

The utility today is heavily dependent on coal for its electric power. The Ford project is expected to avoid the creation of as much as 600,000 tons of global warming carbon dioxide emissions, DTE said.

 

Ford solar deal
F-150 Lightning production; (photo/Ford)

Ford Goes Green

Ford already sources some wind energy in Michigan, and it has taken a variety of other steps to reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing operations. The main assembly plant at the Ford Rouge Complex features a “living” roof, covered with plants that help prevent excess water runoff while helping stabilize temperatures within the factory during both summer and winter weather extremes.

Ford solar deal
(Photo/Ford)

The automaker has also launched an aggressive shift from internal combustion to battery-electric power. Its Mustang Mach-E is now one of the country’s best-selling BEVs, while demand for the all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup built at the Rouge facility has far exceeded its production capacity.

Ford announced this week plans to raise the price of the Lightning by as much as $8,500 for the 2023 model year. It claims the adjustment was forced by increasing costs for raw materials, including the lithium needed for the batteries in the electric pickup.

Ford solar deal
Ford President and CEO Jim Farley speaks at the launch event for the Ford F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich., on April 26, 2022; (photo/Ford)

Ford plans to boost its production capacity to 600,000 EVs by 2023, it recently announced. The plan will see its current output of around 14,000 battery vehicles a month reach 60,000 by late next year, CEO Jim Farley told GearJunkie in an exclusive interview last week.

Blue Oval City

BlueOval City
An all-new proposed $5.6 billion mega campus in Stanton, Tenn., called Blue Oval City; (photo/Ford)

Ford also made alternative energy a critical element in its plan to open up the 5-square-mile Blue Oval City complex near Memphis. When the $5.6 billion project was announced last September, Ford officials said the company “aspires” to use 100% renewables to power the operation. This will include an EV assembly plant, a battery production center, and a battery recycling facility.

Ford has laid out plans to go completely carbon-free by 2050.

Paul Eisenstein
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Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."