The solar system on Toyota’s Altona engine factory.

4 June 2013 — Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Altona, Victoria is now home to a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, the largest roof-mounted PV system in Victoria, and the third-largest nationally.

The 2000-panel system, installed on the engine factory by sustainable energy engineering firm Autonomous Energy, will be launched on Thursday 5 June to coincide with World Environment Day. It was made possible through funding from the previous federal government’s Clean Technology Investment Program, a merit-based grants program to support Australian manufacturer competitiveness that has been discontinued by the Abbott government.

Toyota said it was an important project to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, innovation and cleaner manufacture.

The solar modules are estimated to produce around 668,460-kilowatt hours of renewable energy a year – enough to power 200 households – and provide abatement of 882.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year.

The panels provide around 10 per cent of the engine factory’s energy requirements, with payback within around four years. However, the plant is scheduled to close in 2017, marking the end of automobile manufacturing in the country.

Mark Gadd, managing director of Autonomous Energy, said reducing energy expenses meant that manufacturers were able to produce goods at a lower cost and therefore be more competitive. He said the now scrapped CTIP program facilitated this at the same time as reducing pollution –  “a very clever and economically efficient program”.

Solar panel manufacturer Kyocera’s national manager George Phani said solar was a proven way to reduce costs and carbon emissions.

“This installation is an excellent example to other businesses that large scale solar installations should be implemented not only to help the environment, but also to benefit the bottom line,” he said.