The 20MW solar project is based at Nissan’s Sunderland car plant.
England’s largest solar park with a private wire connection will shortly be operational. The project signposts the future as large corporates grapple with ever more stringent government targets around decarbonisation and mounting pressure from investors.
The site has been sold to an investment trust which will own the 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nissan – another indicator of investor appetite for funding and investing in such projects.
The 20MW solar project, with more than 36,000 solar panels, represents a milestone for Nissan’s EV36Zero project and the company’s journey to carbon neutrality. The car manufacturer aims to be carbon neutral across the lifecycle of its products by 2050.
The new installation, within the Wearside manufacturing facility, will generate enough renewable electricity to supply 20 per cent of the plant’s needs – enough to build every 100% electric Nissan LEAF sold in Europe.
Incentives and targets around decarbonisation for large companies were unveiled at COP26. These included plans to force financial institutions and companies with shares listed on the London Stock Exchange to publish plans from 2023 on how they intend to achieve net zero emissions.
The project, delivered by Newcastle-based Engenera Renewables Group, was recently acquired by Atrato Onsite Energy. Atrato bought the Hylton Plantation Solar Farm – a special purpose vehicle formed to deliver the project – in a £10.6 million deal.
The behind-the-meter private wire solar installation was started late last year. Engenera Renewables Group carried out major design development and site clearance works to prepare the site for the construction of the solar array. As the project progresses, Engenera will retain responsibility for undertaking the EPC and O&M contracts for the installation and maintenance of the solar PV system.
Lloyd Lawson, Chief Strategy Officer, Engenera, said: “The Nissan solar installation is a massive project and hugely important for a number of reasons. It represents the largest private wire installation Engenera has worked on to date, and also gives Nissan a big boost towards achieving its goals of becoming completely carbon neutral across the lifecycle of its products by fiscal year 2050.
“This investment by Atrato Onsite Energy ensures the long-term certainty of the scheme. It means all parties are getting what they need from the project. We now look forward to finalising this installation and working closely with Nissan on future projects.”
Bryan Glendinning, CEO Engenera Renewables Group, added: “This installation at Nissan is a very exciting project for us here at Engenera.
“However, it’s not the only large-scale project we are in the process of delivering. Engenera is already working on the development of over 350MWs of similar utility scale projects throughout the UK and will be starting to deliver these over the coming months.
“We also have capital to deploy and want to hear from any developer who has ready-to-build projects; we are keen to put our expertise and capital to bear and help many more businesses on this important journey.”