Toyota makes green strides in solar power

Posted on 7 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

Toyota is collaborating with British Gas on a project to install a large scale solar panel array at its Derbyshire plant after gaining approval from the local planning authority.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK is set to be the first car manufacturer based in the UK to install such a large scale solar panel array. Work has begun 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 array is set on 90,000 square metres of land on the site, and consists of around 17,000 panels – all of which will be made in the UK. The project will help to decrease the plant’s carbon footprint while cutting its power bills. It will also increase energy security. This is an issue of priority for UK-based energy intensive users as energy taxes continue to raise the cost of electricity.

The scheme will save up to 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. When fully operational, it will be capable of supplying enough energy to build approximately 7,000 cars a year.

The panels are to cost more than £10 million and will be installed and paid for by British Gas. Installation work has already started at the plant and the array is expected to begin supplying power to the plant next month.

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 plant is one of just five worldwide to be designated a ‘Sustainable Plant’ with first-rate environmental credentials.

Tony Walker, Toyota Manufacturing UK deputy managing director said: “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. Generating solar power on-site to supply electricity to the plant … is yet another example of our environmental leadership.”

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 as well as reduce their carbon emissions. Toyota is a real beacon for green business throughout the UK.”

George Archer