Nissan confirms new solar farm at Sunderland car factory

Nissan confirms huge new solar farm at Sunderland car factory that will provide 20% of the plant’s electricity as part of carbon-neutral plans

  • A new 20 megawatt solar farm will be built at the factory’s site in the North East
  • It is in addition to the battery gigafactory being built adjacent to the car plant
  • Development of the farm to begin this month and is due for completion by May
  • It will bolster the existing solar farm at the site as well as 10 wind turbines as the Japanese brand looks to decarbonise its UK production facility by 2050 










Nissan has been granted planning permissions to install a massive new 20 megawatt solar farm at its Sunderland car factory that will produce all the electricity required to power production of its Leaf EV.

Development of the solar farm will begin in December and is scheduled for completion in May 2022 and will be the first of ten planned for the UK.

Earlier this year the Japanese car maker – which has committed to retaining the North East factory as its European hub following Brexit – confirmed it will construct a massive gigafactory the Sunderland site, where batteries will be produced to be used in the vehicles it builds next door.

Nissan’s massive new Sunderland solar farm: New 20 megawatt facility will provide enough on-site renewable electricity to power production of every Nissan Leaf sold in Europe

The solar farm will double the amount of renewable electricity generated at the car factory – from an existing smaller solar farm and wind turbines on-site – and provide enough power to build every electric Nissan Leaf EV sold in Europe.

Confirming the news on Wednesday, Alan Johnson, vice president manufacturing at Nissan Sunderland, said: ‘We have been using renewable sources on-site for more than 15 years. 

‘The expansion of our solar farm is an integral part of the Nissan EV36Zero project and the company’s journey to carbon neutrality.’

Another nine farms are planned under Nissan’s £1billion EV36Zero plan with Envision AESC – the Japanese firm’s battery-making partner for the gigafactory project – and Sunderland City Council’s renewable energy Microgrid. 

It comes just two months after Envision AESC received planning permission for its new 9GWh-capacity battery production facility, which is being developed on land adjacent to the vehicle plant.

The battery factory will bring an estimated 909 jobs to the North East and a further 4,500 to the UK supply chain. 

The project also includes plans for a 1MW battery storage system using second-life Nissan EV batteries, which will also allow for excess energy generated during daylight hours to be captured and used at different times, helping to balance demand on the grid. 

Nissan's Sunderland plant will be under heavy development in the coming months with the addition of the new solar farm and a massive 9GwH-capacity battery production factory

Nissan’s Sunderland plant will be under heavy development in the coming months with the addition of the new solar farm and a massive 9GwH-capacity battery production factory

With the addition of a localised solar farm, Nissan will further bolster its growing manufacturing hub in the North East. 

The car factory in Sunderland has been using on-site wind turbines to produce renewable energy to power the plant since 2005. 

The 10 turbines contribute 6.6MW power, with the existing 4.75MW solar farm installed in 2016.

Earlier this week, Nissan said it will continue to put Sunderland at the heart of a £13billion push into electric car production – in what has been seen as a major vote of confidence in Britain.

The Japanese car maker made the UK commitment as part of its plans to develop 23 electric models worldwide by 2030 – one of them likely a family SUV based on the Chill-Out Concept car it also revealed.

Nissan outlined its future plans earlier this week, which included the promise to develop 23 electric models worldwide by 2030 - some of them to be produced in the UK

Nissan outlined its future plans earlier this week, which included the promise to develop 23 electric models worldwide by 2030 – some of them to be produced in the UK

One of those models is likely a compact family SUV based on the Chill-Out Concept Nissan revealed this week
Nissan said the 'Chill-Out' - which won't be the production version's name - will be a 'mobile haven' for motorists

One of those models is likely a compact family SUV based concept revealed this week. Nissan said the ‘Chill-Out’ – which won’t be the production car’s name – will be a ‘mobile haven’

By the end of the decade, it projects that half the cars it sells globally will be electric. 

Nissan’s plans to go green are even more ambitious in Europe where 75 per cent of its cars will be electric by 2026. 

It also pledged to reduce lithium-ion battery costs by 65 per cent before the end of the decade and by March 2029 introduce potentially game-changing all solid-state batteries.

Those commitments, Chief Executive Makoto Uchida said, would make EVs affordable to more drivers.

In October, Nissan and partner Envision AESC received planning permission to build a new 9GWh-capacity battery-producing gigafactory adjacent to the Sunderland car plant

In October, Nissan and partner Envision AESC received planning permission to build a new 9GWh-capacity battery-producing gigafactory adjacent to the Sunderland car plant

Speaking this week, chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta stressed the importance of the Sunderland plant for these wider plans.

‘Europe will take the lead on electrification around the world for Nissan,’ he said. In Europe, Sunderland is the one which will take the lead towards electrification.’

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng hailed the announcement as a ‘stamp of approval’ for the UK.

He said on Twitter: ‘Delighted to see Nissan are putting the Sunderland plant at the heart of their global effort to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. A stamp of approval for the UK.’

Nissan says it aims to be carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products by fiscal year 2050.

The Japanese car maker opened its Sunderland plant – where it makes the Qashqai, Juke and electric Leaf models – in 1986. 

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