Diageo brews up plans for Fife solar farm

Drinks giant Diageo has started work on a major new solar energy project at one of its largest facilities in Scotland, the company announced today.

The 9,000 panel solar farm is set to generate around 22 per cent of the annual energy needs of its packaging plant in Leven, Fife.

The project, the announcement of which was timed to coincide with yesterday’s World Environment Day, was hailed as “a major step towards the site’s – and Diageo’s global – carbon neutrality goals”.

The array will be delivered in partnership with E.ON and Scottish-based Emtec Energy, Diageo said. It is scheduled to be completed and begin generating power by early 2023.

The project is set to be one of the largest of its type in Scotland, producing 4.1MW of electricity – enough to power 2,500 homes for a year – and reducing CO2 emissions by about 830 tons per year. The Leven site packages up to 40 million cases of spirits annually.

“Diageo is well-rooted in Leven and we are committed to playing a positive role in our local community, so we will continue to invest in projects like this one to improve our impact on the environment and future-proof our operations,” said Gavin Brogan, operations director at Diageo Leven. “We have a number of those projects in the pipeline, including looking into sustainable heating solutions which the solar farm development will help to power.”

In the summer months, the solar farm is expected to generate up to 60 per cent of the facilities’ energy needs.

“Now, more than ever, people are choosing to work with or buy from greener businesses, and at E.ON we have decades of experience in delivering affordable and sustainable solutions that help businesses with their lower carbon ambitions,” said Stuart Beasley, director. of solutions sales at E.ON. “With our partners, Emtec, we are ideally placed to help Diageo in their ambitions to create a more sustainable business, as well as showing employees and customers the tangible changes they are making in the face of the emergency climate and meeting the UK’s 2050 net zero targets.”

In related news, Atrato Onsite Energy (ROOF) last week confirmed it has invested £6.6m into the 24,000 solar panel-strong rooftop system powering Marks & Spencer’s 900,000 square foot Leicestershire-based logistics warehouse. The 6MW project is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and generates near to 5GWh per year, enough to power nearly 1,200 houses.

ROOF describes itself as a “closed-ended investment company that invests in a diversified portfolio of onsite renewable energy assets”. The firm raised £150m in an oversubscribed IPO last year.

The company invests in and installs behind-the-meter solar energy generation systems – predominantly located on the roofs of commercial buildings, which are then commercialized through long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Francisca Wiggins, director of renewable energy at Atrato Group, said: “We are proud to call M&S a customer and to support their net zero ambitions with this investment in one of the largest rooftop solar installations ever built in the UK.

“Soaring electricity prices have made the business case for rooftop solar energy very compelling, ROOF can provide corporations with long term, fixed price, green electricity at a substantial saving to current grid prices.”

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