Ford Geelong
Ford Geelong

$100m plan to draw hi-tech to ex-Ford factory

More than $100 million will be invested in rooftop solar and battery storage at the former Ford factory in Geelong as its new owner looks to offer discounted energy to hi-tech manufacturers.

Five businesses, including three from interstate, are understood to be in the pipeline to move into existing buildings at the Princes Highway precinct now known as Fortek.

However, the Pelligra Group is not expecting to settle the sale of the property with Ford

Australia, which has been undertaking remediation works at the site, until towards the end of the year.

Pelligra Group chairman Ross Pelligra at the old Ford site in Norlane. Picture: Peter Ristevski
Pelligra Group chairman Ross Pelligra at the old Ford site in Norlane. Picture: Peter Ristevski

Pelligra has agreed to lease Fortek roof space to Clean Energy Partnerships to set up, operate and maintain the solar energy installation which will supply power to tenants at a significant discount to the retail market with excess power sold to the national grid.

Clean Energy Partnerships says the solar panel installation is equivalent to the area of five GMHBA Stadiums.

Pelligra Group chairman Ross Pelligra said access to discounted renewable energy would reduce manufacturers' carbon footprint and improve their global competitiveness.

"As a business we see the hard cost of competing with countries who can do manufacturing much more cheaply," Mr Pelligra said.

"We want to have renewable energy on the roofs, so for those businesses that are using robotics and going to another level of manufacturing, the cost of power is not becoming a burden."

The Pelligra Group has a flexible plan for up to 25 industrial tenancies at Fortek and has flagged further redevelopment of the surplus land which could include retail opportunities.

The old Ford Factory site in Norlane.
The old Ford Factory site in Norlane.

It is expecting to get early access to the property and its facilities to undertake refurbishment and service infrastructure works in May or June with the solar panel installation to start in the last quarter of the year.

The arrangement with Clean Energy Partnerships involves long-term clean energy infrastructure projects across its property portfolio which includes both the former Holden plant in Adelaide and Ford's former Broadmeadows plant,

Having large-scale battery storage provides the ability to leverage the excess stored energy to be traded on the national electricity market.

Mr Pelligra said the storage also allowed the power supply to be managed to determine when and which power source to draw from for the most cost-effective outcomes.

The Pelligra Group's game plan for advanced manufacturing in Geelong includes attracting businesses from outer Melbourne where brownfield development sites are being targeted fro residential uses.

Geelong Manufacturing council chief executive David Peart said providing access to chap and renewable energy presented was an attractive proposition to existing and new industry.

"Power costs have consistently ranked as a major issue for manufacturers in Geelong over the past few years," Mr Peart said.

"We expect that Fortek will attract a wide variety of new entrants, jobs, investment and more supply chain opportunities to Geelong. Locations with this quality of infrastructure will be extremely desirable for advanced manufacturing operations.".