WORK is set to begin on a 9000-panel solar farm the size of eight football pitches on vacant land at Diageo’s Leven packaging site – after planning permission was granted for the move.

In partnership with E.ON and Scottish-based Emtec Energy, the solar farm will generate up to 22% of the site’s annual electricity needs and up to 60% in the summer months by 2023.

As one of the largest of its type in Scotland, producing 4.1 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 2500 homes for a year, the farm will reduce CO2 emissions by about 830 tonnes a year.

The announcement coincides with World Environment Day and is a major step towards Diageo’s carbon neutrality goal of being carbon neutral by 2026.

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 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, while 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.”

Diageo, which produces 40 million cases of spirit annually, has commissioned a new mural, designed to give passers-by on the Windygates Road an insight into the factory and publicly reinforce its environmental commitment.

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