Solar automotive factory world’s largest

French car manufacturer Renault will undertake the largest solar project in the history of the automotive industry, installing solar panels on the rooves of all of its French production plants.

Gestamp Solar is supplying the panels for the project, which includes Renault’s Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly, Sandouville and Cléon manufacturing sites in France.

Some 450,000m2 of solar panels are needed for the project, covering an area equivalent to 63 football fields, Renault says.

The installed power capacity of a reported 60 MW is the equivalent annual electricity consumption of a town with a population of 15,000.

The move fits with Renault’s corporate focus on sustainability, called the eco2 policy, producing cars with as little impact on the environment as possible, such as electric cars. 

Renault plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 10% by 2013 and by a further 10% between 2013 and 2016. The solar panel project will reduce CO2 emissions by 30,000 tonnes a year, Renault says.

Renault’s French automotive plants will still use traditional forms of electricity as well as that generated by the solar panels.

The panels will cover Renault’s manufacturing sites, delivery and shipping centres, and staff parking lots.

The installation will start mid-June and should be completed by February 2012.

Australian auto-makers are in a prime position to invest in a similar project, with some of the world’s most cutting-edge solar companies based on our shores.

Toyota is particularly committed to reducing manufacturing emissions, setting itself a challenge to reach zero emissions throughout all of its business.