The Audi Hungaria Factory is Europe's New Largest Rooftop Solar System
(Image credits: Audi AG. Photo montage edit by Andrea Steffen)

The Audi Hungaria Factory Is Europe’s New Largest Rooftop Solar System

On October 7th, 2020, Europe’s most giant photovoltaic roof installation officially started operation. However, the Győr site has used only green power since the beginning of the year. The project is a collaboration between Audi Hungaria and E.ON Hungaria.

Karten Wildberger, an E.ON Board of Management member, said:

This project represents, in many ways, what’s needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To do so, we need to rebuild the energy systems in urban areas and the industry towards CO2-neutral systems. I consider the project with our partner Audi to be an important step in our endeavor to create the sustainable energy world of tomorrow.

It’s the second of five Audi sites to become carbon neutral. In 2021, the plant opened a geothermal facility, sourcing most of its heat requirements from there and compensating the remainder by bio-gas certificates.

The Audi Hungaria Factory is Europe's New Largest Rooftop Solar System
(Credit: Audi AG)

Peter Kössler, Audi’s production board member and chairman of AUDI HUNGARIA Zrt’s supervisory commission, said:

We have a clear aim: that all Audi sites will have a carbon-neutral operation by 2025. By converting our factories to renewable energy, we are making an important contribution to counteracting climate change.

The record-breaking solar roof comprises 36,400 solar cells spread over an area equal to 22.4 football (soccer) fields and has a power capacity of 12 megawatts (MW). It’s anticipated to generate enough energy to power about 3,800 average homes yearly (9.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity).

The Audi Hungaria Factory is Europe's New Largest Rooftop Solar System
(Credit: Audi AG)

The CEO of Audi Hungaria, Alfons Dintner, said it’s a symbol of the company’s commitment to sustainability. He said:

Sustainability is essential for Audi Hungaria. The solar park contributes to our attainment of a neutral carbon balance. It is of great importance to us to make our production more and more environmentally friendly and continuously reduce our activities’ ecological footprint.

All of Audi’s plants have used only green power since the start of the year. Before the solar roof went online, the company retrofitted the factory with energy efficiency upgrades, resulting in an energy savings of 18,000 megawatt-hours a year. That’s equal to avoiding almost 5,750 tons of CO2 emissions from being emitted.

The Audi Hungaria Factory is Europe's New Largest Rooftop Solar System
(Credit: Audi AG)

But Audi doesn’t stop at just reducing the ecological footprints of its sites; it even engages beyond the realm of its factories. It has a network of ‘green trains’ going to and from its plants!

The company explained in a press release:

Since 2017, Audi’s logistical rail transportation carried out with Deutsche Bahn has been largely carbon-neutral. 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 Emden’s North Sea loading port. Since 2012 ‘green trains’ have also been in operation on the Audi plant’s route 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.

The Audi Hungaria Factory is Europe's New Largest Rooftop Solar System
(Credit: Audi. Photo edit by Andrea Steffen)

Audi has also been developing electric vehicles (EVs), like the new Audi E-Tron GT, and even battery-powered flying cars. It recently launched the Artemis Project, an initiative aimed at developing new technologies for EVs.

In the end, there are still some unavoidable carbon emissions (for now), such as those from the engine testing facilities. Those emissions are compensated for through the purchase of internationally recognized and certified carbon credits. However, this only accounts for around 5% of carbon emissions.

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