Diageo gets green light for major solar farm in Fife

Jay Christie and Gavin Brogan

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DIAGEO will commence work on a major new solar energy farm in vacant land within its Leven packaging site from July after receiving planning approval.

Occupying an area the size of eight football pitches, 9,000 solar panels will be installed, generating up to 22% of the site’s annual electricity needs and up to 60% over summer months. The solar array is expected 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 tonnes a year.

The solar farm will be installed on the vacant land in the Southeast corner of Diageo’s 150-acre plant and is being delivered in partnership with E.ON and Scottish-based Emtec Energy. Minimising disruption within the local community, the project is wholly contained within the existing footprint of the site and is scheduled to be complete and generating power by early 2023.  

The announcement coincides with World Environment Day (5 June 2022) and is a major step towards the site’s – and Diageo’s global – carbon neutrality goals. Diageo’s Leven bottling and packaging site produces 40 million cases of premium spirit every year and, under Diageo’s Society 2030 commitment, is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2026 This ambitious 10-year sustainability action plan has been fully embraced by the Fife site which has commissioned a new mural, designed to give passers-by on the Windygates Road an insight into the factory and publicly reinforce its commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

Gavin Brogan, Operations Director at Diageo Leven, said“It’s fantastic to make this project a reality, creating a more resilient and energy-efficient plant. Working in partnership with E.ON and Emtec Energy, the solar array will generate nearly a quarter of our annual energy use and is a fantastic step forward towards meeting our net zero commitments.” 

“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. 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.”

Stuart Beasley, Director of Solutions Sales at E.ON, said: “Now, more than ever, people are choosing to work with or buy from greener businesses, and at E.ON we’ve decades of experience in delivering affordable and sustainable solutions that help businesses with their lower carbon ambitions. 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 climate emergency and meeting the UK’s 2050 net zero targets.”

Plans for the development of the site as a solar array were submitted to Fife council in July 2021.

Building on Diageo’s long-standing commitment to significant science-based action to create a sustainable low-carbon future and having reduced half of the carbon in its operations already, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress aims to remove the rest by 2030, harnessing 100% renewable energy everywhere the company operates. It has also committed to partnering with suppliers to reduce indirect carbon emissions by 50%. In Scotland alone, three of the company’s famous Scotch whisky distilleries – Oban, Royal Lochnagar and Brora – have already achieved net zero carbon emissions.

To find out more, please visit https://www.diageo.com/en/society-2030/society-2030-spirit-of-progress/ 

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