Nissan to Build Microgrid at UK EV Plant

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A first-of-its-kind microgrid project, led by the Sunderland City Council in the UK, aims to deliver 100% renewable electricity for car manufacturer Nissan and its suppliers in the UK, as part of a larger electric vehicle manufacturing plan.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Nissan’s Sunderland factory. Photo by Andrew Parsons/No. 10 Downing St)

“We’re proud to be acting as a key enabler, working to secure an £80 [$110] million infrastructure project … bringing together energy generation, consumption and storage through a dedicated microgrid,” said Councilor Graeme Miller, Sunderland City Council’s leader.

The project is part of the wider announcement of Nissan EV36Zero, a $1.4 billion electric vehicle hub, creating an electric vehicle manufacturing ecosystem centered around Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Sunderland.

Nissan and its partners, Envision AESC, a global player in battery technology, and Sunderland City Council, will make the initial investment. This will fund three interconnected initiatives: electric vehicles, battery production and the renewable energy microgrid.

Ten new solar energy systems

The microgrid will incorporate Nissan’s existing 12.5 MW of wind and solar farms in Sunderland, which will be supplemented with 10 additional solar energy systems, totaling 132 MW of generation. In addition, there are plans to use second life Nissan and Envision AESC batteries for a 1-MW battery storage system. This system will store excess energy during the day for later use. The grid-connected microgrid will also help to balance supply and demand, with smart energy management via a centralized energy center. Sunderland City Council is aiming for a fully operational microgrid by the second half of 2024.

According to Nissan, the project is a globally unique combination of 600,000 vehicles per year production capacity at a 35-year old plant, with on-site battery production, renewable energy and second life batteries as storage.

The clean energy supplied by the microgrid will benefit the other announced initiatives; $585 million will be invested in the production of a new-generation all electric vehicle, and $622 million for Envision AESC to build the UK’s first gigafactory. The factory will produce batteries for up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles per year.

The microgrid project is set to save 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, contributing to Sunderland’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040.

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