Massive solar farm will help power Coca-Cola factory in Wakefield

A massive new solar farm is to help ower Wakefield's giant Coca-Cola Factory, it has been announced.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) today unveils its new major renewable energy project, with all electricity generated by a brand new eight hectare solar farm being used to support production at the facility, still the largest soft drinks factory in Europe.

The size of twelve football pitches, the farm will produce up to five Mega Watts of energy and is based just one-and-a-half miles from CCEP’s Wakefield site, directly connected to the factory via a series of underground cables.

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It will deliver 15 per cent of the site’s total electricity use as part of a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and reduce the site’s operational carbon footprint by 8.6 per cent, with approximately 900 cans and 330 PET bottles produced using renewable electricity every single minute.

The solar farm is the latest step in the Wakefield factory’s carbon savings.

In 2014, a £1m combined heat & power (CHP) system was also launched at the site, saving some 1,500 tons of CO2 a year across the factory’s operations, a 5.6 per cent reduction for the site. Together with the renewable electricity sourced from solar, 3,800 tonnes of CO2 will be saved at the Wakefield site per year – equal to taking more than 1,700 cars off the road.

The solar panels have been installed by solar PV specialists, Athos Solar and the farm has been developed in collaboration with local landowner and businessman, Stephen Butterfield who owns the fields.

The site will also maintain dual-use as grazing land for the sheep that live on the fields

Trevor Newman, operations director at Coca-Cola European Partners, Wakefield, said: “We’re delighted to be producing Coca-Cola, and our other brands, with solar energy in Wakefield.

“Whilst still providing good grazing for Stephen’s sheep, the farm produces green energy for Coca-Cola European Partners, supporting our commitment to use 100 per cent electricity from renewable sources here in Great Britain. We’re proud to be a local company making one of the most recognisable brands in the world in a sustainable way here in Wakefield, working together with a number of local groups and businesses to achieve this.”

Mr Butterfield said: “I am very excited to be working with one of the world’s largest brands on such a worthwhile initiative, harnessing renewable energy from Yorkshire to bring soft drinks to people across the country.

John Newton, Associate Director at the Carbon Trust, said: “This new move to purchase renewable electricity is yet another positive step forwards from the company, demonstrating that the business case for going low carbon is no barrier to commercial success.”

Councillor Denise Jeffery, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration at Wakefield Council, said: “It is very good news that Coca-Cola, a leading company with a large factory in Wakefield, has chosen solar energy as a sustainable form of energy to support production of its products. This is great for the district, supporting our commitment to reducing carbon emissions locally.”