Renault solar panels.automotiveIT

New Renault vans are parked underneath a roof of solar panels (Photo: Gestamp Solar)

Renault is inaugurating a large installation of solar panels at six of its French plants, in a move designed to reduce energy costs and lower the factories' CO2 emissions.

The French automaker, which first announced the project in early 2011, said the solar-power plan for its factories is the biggest of its kind in the world. The 400,000 square meters of panels are being installed at plants in Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly, Sandouville and Cleon in both delivery and shipping sites and employee parking areas.

Because the panels are designed to resist impact, including hail, they also help protect vehicles before delivery to the sales network, Renault said.

The carmaker developed the system with Gestamp Solar, a Spanish developer and operator of utility-scale photovoltaic plants, and French solar panel specialist Coruscant. Both companies serve as operational project managers for the solar panels.

Renault plans to equip international plants with similar panels. It has already set up nearly 100,000 square meters of solar panels at factories in Valladolid and Palencia, Spain, and is conducting feasibility studies in Slovenia, Morocco, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Romania.

Construction for 300,000 square meters of panels at a plant in Busan, S0uth Korea, is scheduled for completion by year-end.