Toyota is set to be the first UK car manufacturer to install a large scale solar panel scheme to cut energy bills and CO2 emissions.
Work has started on installing the ground-mounted system at the firm’s plant in Derbyshire, where Auris and Avensis cars are built for the UK and export markets.
Planning permission has been approved for installing 17,000 panels - enough to cover almost four and a half football pitches, which will help reduce the plant’s carbon footprint, support energy security and cut its power bills.
The scheme will save up to 2,000t of CO2 emissions a year and when fully operational it will be capable of supplying enough energy to build around 7,000 cars a year.
The solar panels will cost more than £10m and will be installed and paid for by British Gas. Installation work has started and the scheme is expected to begin supplying power to the plant in July.
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 underlines our commitment to do even more to further reduce our carbon footprint and is yet another example of our environmental leadership.”
Jon Kimber of British Gas 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. Solar power has the potential to make this happen and really revolutionise the way Britain's homes and businesses generate energy.”