Audi Hungaria has just turned on the largest solar roof in Europe. The solar PV roof is the size of 22.4 football fields (soccer fields), includes 36,400 solar cells, and has a power capacity of 12 megawatts (MW).
Alfons Dintner, CEO of Audi Hungaria, called it “a symbol of our commitment to sustainability.” But it’s far more than a symbol. It’s expected to generate 9.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity a year, enough energy for approximately 9,800 average homes.
The factory has actually been quite green for several years. In 2012, it started getting most of its heating from geothermal, and the remainder covered by biogas certificates. Since early 2020, it has been using 100% green energy. This Audi Hungaria factory in Győr was the second of 5 Audi Hungaria sites to become carbon neutral, only trailing the Audi Brussels achievement in 2018.
Before the solar roof went on, Audi did what everyone should do pre-solar — it engaged in a thorough energy efficiency retrofit that saves the factory 18,000 megawatt-hours of energy in a year.
Aside from now being the European leader in terms of a single rooftop solar facility, Audi Hungaria is also the largest user of industrial geothermal energy in Hungary.
Think it ends there? Don’t be so cynical. Audi has a transportation component to the factory as well. Yes, a transportation component.
“Since 2017 Audi’s logistical rail transportation carried out with Deutsche Bahn has been largely carbon-neutral,” Audi writes. “Thanks to the changeover to the ‘DBeco plus’ product of DB Cargo, the company has saved more than 13,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
“Thanks to the changeover to the ‘DBeco plus’ product of DB Cargo, the company has saved more than 13,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Since 2010 the so-called ‘green train’ has been on the rails between Ingolstadt and the North Sea loading port of Emden. Since 2012 ‘green trains’ have also been in operation on the route from the Audi plant at Neckarsulm to Emden. Since 2019 Audi has also been compensating the routes between the factories in Ingolstadt, Győr and Brussels, the production site of the Audi e-tron.”
I know — Audi critics will be disappointed (as I am) that the factory is still pumping out gasoline and diesel vehicles. But there’s no way anyone who cares about cleantech and cutting pollution shouldn’t be celebrating this green achievement.