The plans are to expand the plant’s existing solar farm, adding another 37,000 solar panels that will contribute 20MW of renewable energy. In addition to solar power, Nissan’s Sunderland plant also features ten wind turbines, which contribute 6.6MW of power.
The expansion is sizeable, as the existing solar farm’s generation stands at 4.75MW. The additional development will see the Sunderland plant’s total renewable energy generation count stand at 32MW. It will make up 20% of the plant’s energy needs, which, according to Nissan, is enough to offset the Leaf production line for the whole of Europe.
Nissan aims to become a carbon-neutral company by 2050. By the early 2030’s they aim to include electrified vehicle offerings across all new products in key markets.
The news is positive for the plant, whose future was in doubt over uncertainty surrounding the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. But in 2020, Nissan reaffirmed its commitment to manufacturing cars in the UK. It backed this up with a £400 million ($556 million) investment made in the Qashqai and the unveiling of a £52 million ($72 million) XL press line last year.
Nissan also announced that it would be recruiting 100 new employees to work on Qashqai production at the Washington plant in Sunderland. It’s once again positive news for what has already been an up-and-down year for the Japanese carmaker. In February, Nissan confirmed that 750 staff members would be furloughed last month, as production faced a crunch due to the global shortage of semiconductors.
Alan Johnson, Vice President Manufacturing at Nissan Sunderland, said: “Renewables have already made a big difference to our business, and we continue to look for ways to make the manufacturing process more sustainable. As our products made in Sunderland become increasingly electrified, our manufacturing operations are an important part of the ecosystem that will take us to carbon neutrality.”