Ford is taking a significant step toward becoming carbon neutral by 2050. On Wednesday, the automaker, in partnership with DTE Energy, announced it will soon be buying enough carbon-free, locally produced electricity to power all its operations in Michigan, from manufacturing plants to its corporate headquarters to research and development facilities.
By the year 2025, every vehicle Ford manufactures in the mitten state will be “assembled with the equivalent of 100% carbon-free electricity.” This includes the Bronco SUV, F-150 and F-150 Lightning full-size trucks, Mustang sports car and Mach-E crossover as well as the Ranger mid-size pickup. That date is 10 years ahead of the automaker’s publicly stated goal. According to a news release from May, “The company is working to achieve carbon neutrality globally across its vehicles, operations and supply chain no later than 2050 and to reach science-based interim targets by 2035.”
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This announcement is an important environmental milestone on the road to a carbon-neutral future. Helping Ford achieve this, DTE Energy is installing some 650 megawatts’ worth of solar electricity generating capacity in Michigan. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, that’s an increase of nearly 70%. In the US, this collaboration between Ford and DTE Energy should also be the single largest renewable energy purchase made by any company from a utility.
Those solar panels will provide plenty of power in the warm, sunny months, but Michigan is in the upper Midwest, a region notorious for gray skies and cold temperatures much of the year. Still, even in winter, those panels will take up the slack, easing the burden on the rest of the power grid by producing clean electricity.
The carbon-free juice Ford will purchase from DTE Energy is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 600,000 tons annually, which is no small potatoes. According to EPA calculations, that’s the equivalent of taking some 120,000 vehicles off the road, it’s roughly what around 140,000 homes would produce.
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“Today is an example of what it looks like to lead … to turn talk into action,” said Ford president and CEO Jim Farley in a release shared by the company. “This unprecedented agreement is all about a greener and brighter future for Ford and for Michigan.”
Ford is buying all this carbon-free electricity from MIGreenPower, a renewable energy program. So far, DTE Energy has enrolled more than 62,000 residential customers in this plan as well as some 600 businesses. To date, members of MIGreenPower have helped prevent 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide from getting released into the atmosphere.
By investing in renewable energy, DTE Energy has created more than 4,000 jobs in Michigan since 2009. The new solar arrays this utility is set to install are expected to create 10 permanent jobs and 250 temporary ones. Added tax revenue will also help the towns where these new solar panels are installed, money that can be spent on roads, schools, libraries and other community services.
It will be a long road for Ford to become carbon neutral by 2050, but the news announced in Michigan today is an important — and significant — step toward achieving that important goal.