Toyota achieves UK industry first with large scale solar panel

07 June 2011 #SMMT News

Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK is set to be the first UK car manufacturer to install a large scale solar panel array after the scheme gained approval from its local planning authority. Work has started on installing the ground-mounted system at Toyota’s vehicle plant in Derbyshire, where Auris hybrid, Auris and Avensis cars are built for the UK and export markets.

The solar array is located on 90,000m2 of industrial land within the plant and consists of around 17,000 panels, which will be manufactured in the UK. Generating electricity for use on site, the project will help reduce the plant’s carbon footprint, support energy security and cut its power bills. The scheme will save up to 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and the savings in energy will be equivalent to 4,600,000 kWh. When fully operational, it will be capable of supplying enough energy to build approximately 7,000 cars a year.

The solar panels will cost more than £10 million and will be installed and paid for by British Gas. Installation work has started and the array is expected to begin supplying power to the plant in July.

The development is a key part of Toyota’s ‘Sustainable Plant’ vision, in which manufacturing operations are designed to work in harmony with their local community and surrounding environment. The UK is one of just five Toyota plants worldwide to be designated a Sustainable Plant with first-rate environmental credentials.

“We are already making a significant contribution to the UK’s low carbon economy with production of Auris hybrid – the first European built full hybrid car,” said Tony Walker, Toyota Manufacturing UK Deputy Managing Director. “Generating solar power on-site to supply electricity to the plant underlines our commitment to do even more to further reduce our carbon footprint and is yet another example of our environmental leadership. We are delighted to be working in partnership with British Gas to achieve this.”

Jon Kimber, Managing Director of British Gas New Energy, said “With energy costs increasing and a tough financial climate, all businesses are looking at ways to cut their bills and reduce their carbon emissions.  Solar power has the potential to make this happen and really revolutionise the way Britain’s homes and businesses generate energy.  Toyota is a real beacon for green business throughout the UK.”

Toyota has a recognised history of environmental leadership. It was the first UK car manufacturer to be awarded the international ISO 14001 standard for environmental management in 1996, and the first to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill to zero in 2002. In 2008 it went further achieving zero waste to incineration.

Key points:

  • Solar array at Toyota’s Derbyshire plant to produce 4,600,000 kWh per year (equivalent power to brew 150 million cups of tea)
  • Joint project between Toyota Manufacturing UK and British Gas
  • Saving up to 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year (equivalent to the weight of 260 London double-decker buses)
  • Project further strengthens Toyota Manufacturing UK’s established environmental leadership

Click through to download SMMT’s Eleventh Sustainability Report, documenting the significant progress in cutting CO2 emissions, waste and energy use that UK manufacturing has made, despite the challenges of the recent economic crisis.

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