Feel free to call Volvo Trucks in Ghent a climate pioneer: their site has been CO2 neutral since 2007. Rapidly changing technologies and production processes are creating new challenges on the sustainability front. But Volvo Trucks has a clear goal: to build CO2 neutral trucks in a CO2 positive factory, which is supplied via a sustainable supply chain.
Pascal Meersschaert, Director of Strategy, Quality and Environment at Volvo Trucks Ghent: "We carry out two main activities at our site: we build the FH and FM models, Volvo's heavy trucks. And we run a distribution centre for spare parts. Our factory produces the largest volume in the Volvo group and the distribution centre is the largest in the group."
"We have drawn up a plan to meet the higher energy demand of our plant. The ultimate goal is that our site will even be CO2-positive."
Pascal Meersschaert, Director of Strategy, Quality and Environment
"Our plant became carbon neutral in 2007, which was very early. Many people didn't even know what that term meant back then. We installed three wind turbines and put 4,250 m² of solar panels on the factory roof. And for our heating we use biomass. That's how we became the first carbon neutral factory in the automotive industry."
"We have continued to invest in sustainability all these years. We also have skylights over the entire production area, so we can save on lighting. For heating, we switched to biopropane, a 100% renewable energy source. In 2007 we reached 14,400 tons of CO2 saved per year. Today that figure is already 23,600 tons. We have also made great efforts in the area of waste. We recycle as much as possible and we no longer dump waste. This has earned us the Landfill Free certificate from the Volvo Group."
Now even more sustainable
"But new challenges are emerging on the sustainability front. One: Volvo is going to build electric versions of the FH and FM models, first in Sweden and then also here in Ghent. We need a special charging infrastructure to charge all those trucks. Two: we also want to make the supply chains of our factories sustainable. This means that CO2 neutral trucks will also be used, and they may have to be able to recharge at our site. Three: We are going to assemble the battery packs for all the Volvo factories in Europe in Ghent. That will lead to a significantly higher energy demand, for the assembly itself, but also for testing the packs."
"We have drawn up a plan to cover this higher energy demand sustainably. The ultimate goal is that our site will even be CO2 positive. We are concurrently continuing to improve our recycling and waste processing so that we can make a major contribution to the general CO2 reduction in our environment, which fits in perfectly with the vision on sustainability of the entire Volvo group: 100% safe, 100% sustainable and 100% more productive in our logistics supply chain by 2030. A lot more can be read about this vision at volvogroup.com."