Volvo’s Carbon-Free Factory

Gary S. Vasilash

It sometimes seems as though when the whole notion of “CO2-neutral” activities come up, some people tend to think that it is something rather limited in scope, like planting a whole lot of seedlings in a park to offset emissions from driving to the park.

But industrial-strength carbon neutrality?


Volvo plant 1

Unless, of course, you are Volvo Group, the still-Swedish outfit that makes trucks and industrial equipment.

It recently announced that the Volvo Construction Equipment factory in Braås, Sweden, a 45,000-sq-m site (484,250 sq ft) where they build articulated haulers (according to the company, it is the largest manufacturer of haulers and wheel loaders in the world), is carbon neutral.

The factory is powered by wind, biomass and hydropower.

It isn’t an effort that happened overnight. They’ve been working on it since 1999, when Volvo Construction Equipment commissioned its local energy supplier, Växjö Energi AB, to install a heating plant fueled by woodchips; the heat was used to provide central heating for the Volvo facility.

Volvo plant 2

Additional steps have been taken, ranging from switching over the forklifts to electric power (hydropower sourced) to even switching the paint ovens in the factory to cleaner power.

By the way: the Braås, Sweden, plant is the second one in the group to become carbon neutral. The Volvo Group Truck facility in Ghent, Belgium, became CO2 neutral in 2007.

Seedlings may help, but serious changes like those of Volvo Group are essential.