While Ford vehicles are among the most environmentally efficient on the road, the company's commitment to a "greener" future is reaching beyond its products and into many areas of its business operations.

On November 16, two gigantic wind turbines, each with a height of 150 metres, spun into action producing 'green' electricity for the Genk plant in Belgium. Installed by local energy company, Electrabel, each unit has an output of two megawatts of power, enough to power 2,500 private homes. The wind turbines will deliver a significant part of the electrical power needed in the Genk Plant, production home of the Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy models.

"It's part of our ongoing effort to implement a broad portfolio of environmental initiatives across our European plants that are aimed at further reducing the CO2 footprint from our manufacturing operations," explained Wolfgang Schneider, vice president for governmental and environmental affairs, Ford of Europe.

Genk is not the only Ford of Europe plant to use electricity generated by wind turbines. Five years ago, the Dagenham Diesel Center in the United Kingdom became the world's first automotive plant to meet all its electricity needs from two giant on-site turbines.

A third turbine is expected to come into service in Dagenham in 2010, allowing the plant to remain 100 per cent powered by wind-generated electricity, following the installation of a new 1.4/1.6-liter Duratorq TDCi engine production line. A new three-bladed turbine, provided by Ecotricity, will be commissioned to produce two megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

A few miles away from Dagenham, Ford's Dunton Technical Center is also powered by electricity from renewable sources. Since March last year, electric power on the 270-acre site, home to a team of around 3,000 engineers, has been purchased from 100 per cent renewable sources. The majority of the electricity, supplied by GDF, is sourced from a combination of hydro, wind and waste generation, and replaces energy from traditional sources that would have produced an estimated 35,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Similarly in Germany, Ford is sourcing renewable electricity to cover the power demands of its sites in Cologne. This includes the electricity needed for the production facilities at the Niehl Plant, the Technical Center in Merkenich, and Ford of Europe's head office, also in Cologne-Niehl. This electricity comes from three hydro-power plants in Norway and Sweden.

Since January 2009 in a related development, Merkenich Technical Center has been heated by steam provided by local utility provider, RheinEnergie, as a by-product of its co-generation power plant. The steam is fed to the Technical Center's boiler house via a 2.6-kilometer long pipeline. The initiatives in Niehl and Merkenich reduce annual CO2 emissions by 190,000 tonnes.

Electricity from another source – the sun – has for many years helped to power Ford's Bridgend engine plant in Wales with its roof-mounted solar/photovoltaic panels.

"Such developments demonstrate the substantial progress we are making and our commitment to further improving our environmental performance," said Wolfgang Schneider. "We are building on that progress and continuing to look at ways to further reducing the carbon footprint of our manufacturing and office locations across Europe parallel to the carbon footprint of our products."

NEW WIND TURBINES AT GENK PLANT