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Toyota SA to invest R800m-plus in renewable energy as it flags loadshedding as a ‘big concern’

10th February 2023

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Toyota South Africa Motors’ (TSAM’s) Prospecton production complex in Durban will move to 100% renewable energy by 2028, in an investment that will cost north of R800-million, says president and CEO Andrew Kirby.

TSAM will have to carry the cost of the investment, and not its Japanese parent company.

About 10 MW of solar power has already been installed at the plant, with the aim to increase that to 31 MW.

To achieve its 100% renewable energy goal, TSAM will also have to roll out low-carbon equipment, improve its waste management, and perhaps also look at alternative energy sources during night shifts.

Speaking at the vehicle manufacturer’s State of the Motor Industry event held in Johannesburg at the end of January, Kirby said the Hino truck plant within the production complex was already “self-sufficient” and running on 100% renewable energy.

The group’s Atlas warehouse in Gauteng was set to emulate the Hino plant by 2025, with the Sandton head office to get there “much sooner”.

The bigger goal was for TSAM to become completely carbon neutral by 2035.

“This is an enormous challenge, and we don’t have all the answers yet, but we are dedi- cated to achieving this,” noted Kirby.

He added that the 2028 renewable energy target was a “big investment”, and a “big commitment”.

“We are doing this for a number of reasons.”

One reason was to cut the company’s carbon footprint, which was necessary if TSAM wanted to continue to be part of a global supply chain growing increasingly eco-friendly.

Another reason was to mitigate the current loadshedding crisis caused by State-owned energy producer Eskom being unable to supply the country with sufficient electricity.

Kirby said TSAM had been working closely with the eThekwini municipality to put agreed mechanisms in place to reduce the Prospecton complex’s overall energy consumption when necessary.

This had enabled the plant to continue its production day without interruption.

However, component suppliers to TSAM had not been that lucky – especially suppliers with high energy demands that could not be met by alternative energy sources, such as furnaces.

In these cases, TSAM and the suppliers had been in contact with the relevant municipalities to convince them to sequence their loadshedding periods not too closely together, so that the power outages did not interrupt the production cycle.

“For a furnace, for example, it takes two hours to get back up to speed, and then, two hours later, we have loadshedding again,” explained Kirby.

“We are working closely with everyone.

“To be honest, it’s a moving target.

“We have come very close to having to curtail our production because of loadshedding, and we think it’s going to get worse,” said Kirby.

“It’s a big concern for us and we are managing it moment by moment.”

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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