Renewable plans for Ford plant

Ford Motor Company’s idled Wixom Assembly Plant in Michigan is to be transformed into one of the US’s largest renewable energy manufacturing parks.

Ford Motor Company has reached an agreement in principle to sell its Wixom Assembly Plant to Clairvoyant Energy of Santa Barbara, California and Xtreme Power of Austin, Texas.

Clairvoyant Energy and Xtreme Power plan an initial investment of more than $725m (£438m) to redevelop the 320-acre plant site and its 4.7 million square feet of building space to manufacture solar photovoltaic power and turnkey energy storage systems, respectively.

The two companies will use approximately half of the square footage to manufacture their products, and will seek additional manufacturing and support companies to lease the remaining space.

The redevelopment work at the Wixom site is expected to begin early next year, with manufacturing at the site slated to begin in late 2011.

The redevelopment plan is expected to create more than 4,000 direct jobs, including local suppliers, as well as support thousands of indirect jobs.

Ford has been working with the developers and state and local officials over the past nine months on a redevelopment plan for the 52-year-old auto plant.

Oerlikon Solar USA, a thin-film solar manufacturing company and Clairvoyant’s technology partner, will also establish a new regional office at the Wixom site as part of the new renewable energy park.

The Wixom redevelopment also includes a proposed renewable energy research and training centre. In addition to providing access to research and training facilities for the tenants on the site, it is intended to provide universities and colleges with opportunities for on-site applied research classes in the renewable energy field.