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Plans approved for huge new solar farm at Nissan as Sunderland plant aims to go carbon neutral

Nissan has been given the green light to install a huge solar farm at its Sunderland plant as part of a drive to become carbon neutral.

By Chris Binding
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:44 pm

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The solar farm will add to Nissan's existing renewable energy sources at the plant.

Planning permission was granted for the new 20MW installation this week, which will double the amount of renewable electricity generated at Nissan’s factory to 20% of the plant’s needs.

This is enough to build every 100% electric Nissan LEAF sold in Europe.

The solar farm will generate enough electricity to build every LEAF in Europe.

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With planning permission granted, work will begin on the development immediately and installation alongside the plant’s existing wind and solar farms is expected to be completed by May 2022.

The plans were approved by Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee on Tuesday, November 30.

Alan Johnson, Vice President of Manufacturing at Nissan Sunderland, welcomed the decision by councillors.

“We have been using renewable sources on-site for more than 15 years,” he said.

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

The development is the first of a potential ten additional solar farms planned under Nissan EV36Zero, which was announced in July with an initial £1bn investment from Nissan and its partners in future electric vehicle manufacturing, along with a new Envision AESC gigafactory and Sunderland City Council’s renewable energy Microgrid.

This week, Nissan also announced Ambition 2030, the company’s long-term plan to empower mobility and beyond, which included the Chill-Out Concept – previewing the new-generation electric crossover slated for future production in Sunderland.

In October, battery partner Envision AESC also received planning permission for its new gigafactory to be built on land adjacent to the vehicle plant.

The project 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 began integrating renewable energy sources in Sunderland in 2005 when the company installed its first wind turbines on site.

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

Under Ambition 2030, Nissan aims to become a fully sustainable company, driving towards a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world.

This vision supports Nissan’s goal to be carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products by the fiscal year 2050.

The new solar farm, which was approved by Sunderland councillors this week, is being developed and installed by its partner company Engenera.

Referred to as the Hylton Plantation Solar Farm, the development will contain around 37,000 panels arranged in rows on undeveloped land located near the main Nissan factory complex.

The application from Engenera Renewables Group aims to operate the development for a 40-year period, after which the solar farm will be decommissioned and the site restored to its existing condition.

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