Built on the former Usworth Aerodrome, the Sunderland plant is Nissan's biggest European manufacturing plant and features a vehicle test track. Within the loop of this track now sits a solar farm made up of 19,000 photovoltaic panels. These can supply 4.75 MW of power to supplement the 6.6 MW already being generated by 10 wind turbines at the site, the first of which were installed in 2005.
The total 11.25 MW created by renewables will cover about seven percent of the factory's total electricity usage, which Nissan says is enough to build 31,374 cars every year.
"Renewable energy is fundamental to Nissan's vision for Intelligent Mobility," says Colin Lawther, Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Chain at Nissan Europe. "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."
Nissan's increased commitment to renewable energy is just one of the steps the Japanese company has taken to cut down on fossil-fuel reliance in Europe. As well as selling the Leaf, we've seen residential energy storage using recycled EV batteries, while a trial is currently underway allowing Leaf owners to charge their cars using cheaper off-peak power before feeding it back into the grid during peak times.