Approval from the local planning authority makes Toyota the first UK car manufacturer to install an array on such a scale.
According to Toyota, work has started 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 solar array is located on 90,000m2 of industrial land within the plant and consists of around 17,000 panels that will be manufactured in the UK.
It is claimed that the scheme will save up to 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and that the saving in energy will be equivalent to 4,600,000kWh. When fully operational, it will be capable of supplying enough energy to build approximately 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 array is expected to begin supplying power to the plant in July.
The development is said to be 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.
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 the Auris hybrid.
‘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. We are delighted to be working in partnership with British Gas to achieve this.’