England’s largest private wire solar connection signposts the future

Nissan Sunderland

The largest solar park with a private wire connection in the whole of England will shortly be operational. The landmark project represents a sign of the future as large corporates grapple with increasingly stringent government targets around decarbonisation and mounting pressure from investors.

Equally, the sale of the site to an investment trust, which will now own the 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) entered into by Nissan, is also an indicator of investor appetite for funding and investing in such projects.

The 20MW solar project, which comprises more than 36,000 solar panels, represents an important milestone for Nissan on its EV36Zero project and the company’s journey to carbon neutrality. The motor manufacturer’s goal is to be carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products by 2050.

The new installation, located within Nissan’s manufacturing facility in Sunderland, England, will create enough renewable electricity generated at Nissan’s Sunderland plant to supply 20% of the plant’s needs – enough to build every 100% electric Nissan LEAF sold in Europe.

A number of 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 acquired last week by Atrato Onsite Energy. Atrato acquired the Engenera Renewables Group-owned development company 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 considerable 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 life cycle 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, and significant praise should go to our Chief Technical Officer, Luke Lobo, for his incredible work in getting the project to financial close.

“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.”

Engenera Renewables Group works with clients on a range of renewable technologies including commercial solar PV and battery storage, air and ground source heat pumps, combined heat and power, electric vehicle charging points and LED lighting.