Coca-Cola unveils huge solar farm expansion near Wakefield

Coca-Cola has revealed a newly expanded renewable energy initiative at its Wakefield factory which will save almost 1,800 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The site, Europe’s largest soft drinks plant, will see an expansion of a local solar farm from 5 to 8.1 megawatts, meaning it will now deliver almost 20 per cent of its total electricity usage.

The expanded solar farm will also help with the long-term restoration of low-quality agricultural land on the site of a former open cast mine, which cannot otherwise be developed as it forms an important part of local flood defences. It will include wildlife corridors to safeguard and encourage site biodiversity.

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The solar farm expansion has been developed in collaboration with local landowner, Stephen Butterfield, and is managed by solar PV specialists Innova Energy.

Coca-Cola's solar farm at Wakefield.

It utilises the next generation of two-sided solar panels, maximising the capture and conversion of solar irradiation as it is reflected off the ground.

In addition to the extension of the solar farm, CCEP also invested £27m into the site in 2020, to support a new state-of-the art canning line, elevating the site’s production capabilities and supporting the production of sustainable packaging for CCEP’s well-known brands, including Coca-Cola Classic.

The latest line produces 2,000 330ml cans per minute and underpins CCEP’s long-term commitment to its Wakefield site.

This forms part of CCEP’s efforts to ensure the best possible standards of water and waste management at its sites and is crucial in accelerating its journey to developing the lightest possible beverage cans.

Vanessa Smith, director, supply chain operations, said: “These investments are the latest milestone in our sustainability journey at our site in Wakefield and will significantly contribute towards achieving our target of reaching net zero by 2040.

“We know it’s important to implement initiatives like this at every level of the supply chain and increasing the local generation of renewable electricity will take us further towards our longer term decarbonisation goals.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted all businesses to assess the way we do things, our ambition to function as sustainably as we possibly can is more heightened than ever. We’re pleased to be helping in enabling a green recovery locally, and to have been able to work so closely with Mr Butterfield to identify how we can meet a local need.”