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 |  Jun 07 2011, 11:29 AM

In what’s being billed as an industry first in the United Kingdom, Toyota‘s manufacturing plant in Derbyshire, England, where it builds European market Avensis models as well as the Auris and Auris hybrid, is having a large scale solar panel array installed, in an effort to generate energy while reducing the plant’s carbon footprint.

The solar array consists of some 17,000 individual panels on an area of land within the plant perimeter that covers some 90,000 square meters (roughly 968,752 square feet or the size of almost four and half soccer fields). The project will cost some £10 million (approximately $16.5 million) and will be installed and paid for by  UK utility British Gas.

It is believed that once operational, the solar panel array will save up to 2000 metric tonnes of Co2 emissions and 4,600,000 kilowatts of energy on a yearly basis, while at the same time generating enough to cover the production of 7,000 cars per year.

The project has already been started and it’s expected that the array will begin supplying power to the plant sometime next month.