Spirits giant Diageo sees Fife solar farm plans heating up

Johnnie Walker owner Diageo is set to start work on a solar energy farm – which it says will be one of the largest of its type in Scotland – on its Leven packaging site after getting the green light.

The firm, which is also behind brands such as Smirnoff and Guinness, says the facility will occupy an area the size of eight football pitches, and will see 9,000 solar panels installed, generating up to 22 per cent of the site’s annual electricity needs, reaching up to 60 per cent over summer months.

The solar array is expected to on an annual basis produce enough electricity to power 2,500 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 830 tonnes.

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The solar farm, planning permission for which was submitted in August, will be installed on Diageo’s 150-acre plant and is being delivered in partnership with E.On and Scottish-based Emtec Energy.

Work starts next month and the facility is scheduled to be complete and generating power by early 2023, marking a major step towards its – and Diageo’s – carbon-neutrality goals, the spirits giant added.

The group said its 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. Diageo also notes that in Scotland alone, three of its Scotch whisky distilleries – Oban, Royal Lochnagar and Brora – have already achieved net zero carbon emissions.

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. 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.

From left: Diageo Leven's environmental sustainability manager Jay Christie and operations director Gavin Brogan. Picture: Mike Wilkinson.

"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 of E.On said: “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.”

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