Nissan switches on solar farm at largest European plant in Sunderland

Japanese carmaker and leading electric vehicle (EV) producer Nissan has completed the installation of a 4.75MW solar farm in Sunderland - its biggest manufacturing plant in Europe - which along with other renewable sources will generate enough power to build more than 31,000 cars every year.

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

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

Developed and installed within the loop of Nissan’s vehicle test track by partner company European Energy Photovoltaics, the solar farm is made up of 19,000 PV panels which will save the equivalent of 3,000 tonnes of CO2.

The latest renewable energy installation will combine with 10 previously installed wind turbines already contributing 6.6MW power to the Sunderland site, which is the European centre of production for the all-electric Nissan Leaf and its batteries. A total output of 11.35MW will now generate energy at the plant, equating to 7% of the plant’s electricity requirements.

Nissan’s senior VP for manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management in Europe Colin Lawther said: “Renewable energy is fundamental to Nissan’s vision for Intelligent Mobility. We have built over 50,000 Nissan LEAFs in Europe, and the industry-leading new 250km-range LEAF is now available. With 10 wind turbines already generating energy for our Sunderland plant, this new solar farm will further reduce the environmental impact of Nissan vehicles during their entire lifecycle.”

“We have built over 50,000 Nissan LEAFs in Europe, and the industry-leading new 250km-range LEAF is now available. With 10 wind turbines already generating energy for our Sunderland plant, this new solar farm will further reduce the environmental impact of Nissan vehicles during their entire lifecycle.”

Vehicle-to-grid storage

Nissan’s solar farm announcement follows a number of breakthrough initiatives recently announced concerning EVs and next generation battery technology.

Speaking at a launch event in London last month, Nissan Europe’s chairman Paul Willcox announced the firm will develop 100 new vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy storage units that bring together vehicles, roads and energy networks in “complete synchronicity”. The V2G charging infrastructure is being developed by Italian energy supplier Enel – which Nissan has previously worked with during battery energy storage trials in France.

The energy storage systems form just one part of Nissan’s future blueprints in the EV space which, alongside a plan to put fully autonomous cars onto the roads by 2020, also includes the 'Fuel Station of the Future' concept which will harness the power of battery storage and incorporate elements from the Internet of things.

Last week, Nissan supplied more than 100 EVs to UEFA and associated sponsors and installed 17 public EV rapid chargers in Milan and its surrounding airports during the UEFA Champions League Final weekend.

George Ogleby


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