While Volvo works on an emissions-free truck, its Virginia assembly plant is running on 100% renewable energy.
As of November, all the electricity used at Volvo’s New River Valley assembly plant comes from methane gas captured from 13 landfills in the region. The company produces all its trucks for North America there.
"The trash of the past is the methane gas that fuels our plant today," says Franky Marchand, General Manager of the factory. And thanks to extensive recycling, the plant sends no waste to landfills. Capturing methane also improves local air quality by as much as 90%.
Early next year, Toyota’s Georgetown assembly plant in Kentucky will also be running on landfill gas.
Back in 2005, Volvo Trucks’ plant in Tuve, Sweden was the world’s first CO2-free automotive plant, running on wind and biofuels.
Plant management and employees have been working together on efficiency initiatives that have resulted in the use of 30% less energy – and 70% less water – to assemble each truck. One innovative idea they are acting on is producing heat by capturing solar energy absorbed on exterior walls.
The plant received certification from the US Department of Energy’s Superior Energy Platinum program – the top US recognition for continuous improvements in energy efficiency.
Last year, Volvo developed "I-See" software that cuts fuel consumption by 5% in long-distance travel by trucks. It allows them to basically run on auto-pilot.
For cars, Volvo is developing electric cars that don’t need batteries because the body panels provide the power source.